Thursday, July 25, 2013

Titan Arum: "Corpse Plant"

Okay--this is really off the beaten path.  Normally I don't post anything that you can't see here at our Museum, but I'm willing to make an exception in this case.  Recently, while on vacation in Washington D.C. I happened upon a very unusual bloom at the United States Botanical Garden--you may have heard about the blooming of the titan arum?  It has finished blooming, but I was lucky enough to be in D.C. for this spectacular event, which only lasted a couple of days.  According to the USBG, it started to open on July 21, 2013, started to close on July 22, and had collapsed by July 24.  I saw it on Monday, July 22.  The erratic blooming cycle can be every few years, but it may not bloom for decades--it's an energy intensive process, so the conditions have to be just right.  While I was there, it was in full bloom--but oddly enough I did not notice any "stinky" smell.  I overheard one of the curators explain that the ventilation system moved a lot of the stink away during the day, but it was noticeable in the evening.   The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is also called the "corpse flower" for its smell--like that of rotting flesh.  Why so stinky?  It's to attract pollinators like dung beetles and carrion beetles.  Native to tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, the USBG specimen was not collected from the wild, but instead it's a donated seedling. They have several titans, and this one is about 7 years old and this was its first bloom.  It weighs in at about 250 pounds and though I'm not sure exactly how tall this particular one was, they can get up to 12 feet tall.  Enjoy!--Lisa

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a beautifull and really large flower, would love to have this one at home