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21 October 2005
"Corpse flower" blooms in Stuttgart Germany

Titan Arum

BERLIN (Reuters) - The world's tallest -- and smelliest -- flower has bloomed, reaching a height of 2.94 meters, 18 centimeters more than the previous record for the species, the Stuttgart botanical garden said on Friday.

The Titan Arum, or Amorphophallus Titanum, nicknamed "corpse flower" because of its putrid stench, blooms rarely and briefly.

Garden staff have nicknamed the purple flower "Diva" and are charting its life on their web site.


I only just learned of these giant 'corpse flowers' this year. They are named Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) or 'corpse flower' because of the strong, putrid, rotting-flesh stench emitted from the flower(s). Titan Arum is an Indonesian rainforest plant that relies on pollination by carrion beetles and flesh flies - hence the stink to attract them. It's considered to be the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world; comprised of many small male and female flowers, it can be 6 to 10 feet tall by 3 feet across. Thank goodness the giant flower, and its giant smell, only last a couple of days. The plant grows from a large tuber - from 30 to more than 100 pounds. The plant typically lives for about 40 years, flowering only 2 or 3 times during its life. More common members of the Arum family are skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and the calla lily (Zantedeschia elliottiana).

A lab mate has a Titan Arum in her house - it has never flowered. She has visited the U-W Madison greenhouses where they've had a couple bloom - one this past June. The U-W Titan Arum web site has lots of good pictures.

Here's a time-lapse video of a Titan Arum blooming at Kew Gardens in the UK.

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