This ethereal-looking plant is quite typical of lowland plants growing in the tropical and subtropical zones of the paleotropics, from West Africa to the Pacific Islands. Reaching heights of 30 cm, this spectacular plant is a famine food for the Wolof people but requires special preparation as the toxicity level of the tuber is such that in Upper Volta it is used as an arrow-poison.
Perhaps this member of the arum family would be more widely cultivated, but its unpleasant smell, colorfully described as ‘decaying flesh’, is a disincentive. The smell, however, fosters a rather time-sensitive reproduction. Fully open and receptive for one day, the spathe must attract the attention of insects to pollinate it.
No particular English common name exists for this species. Additional photographs of the species are available via the International Aroid Society: Amorphophallus aphyllus.