Sydney was witnessed to a most anticipated arrival, when after years of
tender care, the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) finally flowered. Being the
first time to have ever flowered in Sydney, the plant has the largest and most
probably the smelliest flower in the world.
Found in the rainforest of western Sumatera in Indonesia, the Botanic Gardens
Trust is collaborating with the Indonesian Botanic Gardens to cultivate the
species which is endangered in its natural habitat.
What's in a Name?
Known as the Titan Arum, its full scientific name is Amorphophallus titanum,
meaning ‘huge deformed penis’. Its Indonesian common name is bunga bangkai,
translated to mean ‘corpse flower’.
How big is it?
The Titan Arum looks like a small tree. It is however a single leaf with a
‘trunk-like’ leaf stalk and lots of leaflets. This leaf lives for over a year
before finally dying. The Titan Arum’s storage root, or ‘tuber’, then enters a
short dormant period before producing another leaf. The tuber can stay dormant
for a period of 1 to 3 years. When the tuber is big enough, it will then flower,
with the flower in full bloom not lasting more than 2 to 3 days.
During a 40 year lifespan, the plant only flowers 2 to 3 times.
When the flower is fully open, it gets hot and gives off a scent that has been described as something like rotting flesh or fish
that has gone off. The smell is strongest at night, where in its native
environment, it attracts the carrion beetles and sweat bees. These insects are
lured by the odour and heat, where they climb down into the funnel-shaped
blossom and then depart laden with pollen, to seek another plant and another
flower, helping to spread the pollen and perpetuating the species.
The flower structure grows about 10 cm (4 inches) a day, with the spadix
reaching a height of anywhere between 2 and 2.9 metres (7 to 12 feet). The
flower itself can have a diameter of about 1.33 metres (4 feet).
Botanic Gardens Sydney -