A Corpse Flower with the stench of rotting flesh is attracting thousands of people to Mount Lofty Botanic Garden in Adelaide, South Australia. Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), from the Sumatran rainforsts, is one of the largest flowers in the world, and reeks worse than a morgue during a power cut.
Commonly known as the Corpse Flower because it smells like rotting flesh, it can grow up to three metres (nearly 10 feet) tall.
According to Botanic Gardens of South Australia, the flower’s height, plus its burgundy upturned skirt (spathe), massive phallic spike (spadix), and disgusting smell, has turned Titan arum into a ‘rockstar of the plant world’.
Greg Barila took this photo when visiting the garden, and posted his pic on Twitter with the following comment “It’s it pee-ewwwwwwtiful? Thousands turn out for rare opening of putrid flower.” (Image: twitter.com/GregBarila)
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, which describes the flower as a major boon, has managed to get the endangered plant to flower.
Garden staff excited at Titan arum flowering
Matt Coulter, Horticultural Curator of Plant Propagation, said the botanic garden managed to get the seed for the flower through a donation nine years ago. Titan arum’s flowering is a ‘thrilling prospect’, he commented.
After a social media competition, the flower has been named Indah, which in Indonesian means ‘beautiful’.
Mr Coulter said:
“Flowering events are rare because the plant is so difficult to cultivate, even in optimum conditions. The fact the flower, and its signature stench, will only last around 48 hours before it collapses on itself, makes it a must-see event for plant lovers and curious souls alike.”
Janice Goodwins, Director of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, said that having a Titan arum – an endangered species due to deforestation – set to bloom is a credit to her passionate, persistent and expert staff.
Thousands of people queued up to see the corpse flower and perhaps catch a whiff of its stench. Botanic Gardens of South Australia tweeted “TitanArum queues are a little longer than anticipated. Thanks for your patience!” (Image: twitter.com/BotGardensSA)
A fascinating plant
Ms. Goodwins said:
“The Titan arum really is one of the world’s most fascinating plants, and we’re ecstatic the South Australian public have the opportunity to see it. Visitors will gain an appreciation of the wonder of nature, and for the important work being done by botanic gardens to help conserve vulnerable plants around the world.”
While the Gardens said it could not confirm the exact flowering dates, it was decided to open the Nursery to the public between 10 am and 3 pm on 29th December, given that temperatures later in the week are set to rise. When it gets too hot, the gardens close. According to local reports, it bloomed on the 28th December.
Unless closed due to a fire danger rating, the Nursery will also open on 30th December.
Even under the best conditions, the Titan arum takes from 7 to 10 years to flower from seed. The species has proven extremely difficult to cultivate. Each time any botanical garden manages to get one to flower, the news hits the headlines. (Image: edenproject.com)
Why does it stink?
Botanic Gardens of South Australia says the foul smell is to attract pollen-carrying insects (pollinators), which enables fertilisation of the plant and the creation of offspring for the next generation of plants.
The Titan arum has the biggest unbranched inflorescence (complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers) in the world. Its corm is the world’s largest, weighing it at about 100 kg (220 lbs). The leaf and the inflorescence can grow amazingly fast – up to 0.5 to 1 metre (19 to 39 inches) per week.
On its website, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden wrote:
“Visitors are advised to go to the Garden’s Lower Entrance (enter via Lampert Road), park in the Lower Carpark and follow the signs along the dam wall to the Nursery (approximately a one-kilometre round-trip).
Video – Timelapse flowering of the Titan arum
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), better known as the Corpse Flower due to its disgusting smell, bloomed for the first time in South Australia at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.