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Titan Arum

Amorphophallus titanum

Titan Arum
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Titan Arum • Amorphophallus titanum
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 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.

Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum)

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).
Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - Leaflet flower - grows up to 2.9 metres in height  
leaf height - up to 6 metres  
leaf width - up to 4.5 metres  
tuber (corm) - up to 100 kilograms.  

Source: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney - Titan Arum

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Genus: Amorphophallus
Species: A. titanum
Binomial name: Amorphophallus titanum

Titan Arum Images

Images from Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens...
Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - Tuber Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - a new leaf Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - leaf Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - dead leaf
Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower
Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower and tuber
Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - spadix Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower closeup Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - in full flower Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - flower closeup
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