Sydney was witnessed to a most anticipated arrival
(back in 2004), 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
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 Arums 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.