last updated October 20th,
and is permanently morphing...
(6 Ahau (Flower) - 18 Yax (Green)
- 240/260 - 126.96.36.199.0)
or Titan Arum on display Friday, July 30, 1999 at the Huntington
Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. The blossom, currently nearly
6 feet tall, is expected to come into full bloom in the next few days,
opening its maroon, petal-like folds to a diameter of approximately 3-4
feet, releasing its exceptionally foul odor. The sight of one of these
flowers inbloom is extremely rare. Only ten blossoms have been recorded
in the United States during this century. Native to Sumatra, it is said
to be the largest flower in the world. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes).
Discovered in Sumatra by Italian botanist Odoardo
Beccari in 1878.
Found only in the equatorial tropical rainforests
of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Seeds sent by Dr. Beccari to the Royal Botanic Gardens
Kew (via Italy) were grown and the first blooming of this species in cultivation
occurred at Kew in 1889.
The first recorded bloom in the U.S. was at the New
York Botanical Garden in 1937, where it caused quite a sensation.
So rarely blooms in cultivation that this will be
only the 11th recorded bloom in the U.S., and the first ever in California.
Has only rarely been displayed outdoors.
Grows from a large tuber which can reach 170 pounds
or more. The Huntington's tuber was 18 inches in diameter and 40 pounds
when received in March from Mark Dimmitt of Arizona.
Said to be the largest "flower" (in sheer bulk) in
the world, it is technically an "inflorescence", or a cluster of flowers.
The spadix can reach over 6 feet tall (the tallest ever recorded was over
10 feet), and when fully open the spathe can reach about 3 feet across.
The largest true flower in the world is the Titan Arum's compatriot Rafflesia
arnoldii, found in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo.
Thousands of true flowers are hidden inside at the
base of the spadix (the fleshy central column). The large frilly-edged
leafy structure enclosing the spadix is called the spathe. The completely
unfurled spathe resembles an upturned fluted bell with a maroon interior.
Only then are the flowers mature. Male and female flowers are separate,
with the female flowers receptive first, the male flowers releasing pollen
the next day; this ensures cross-pollination. A plant cannot produce seed
unless pollen is provided from another plant. The spathe will unfurl about
3 weeks after the bud tip first appears; . The flower typically stays open
for two days.
When the flower is fully open, it emits a repulsive
scent (hence its Indonesian common name). The odor, strongest at night,
is to attract pollinators, which in its Sumatran home are thought to be
carrion beetles and sweat bees.
A single huge umbrella-like leaf appears alternately
with the flower and is itself quite "titanic". In cultivation it can reach
over 12 feet high, its stalk in the wild can reach 20 feet tall and 15
feet across. The single stalk grows several feet tall and as thick as a
person's thigh before branching into a compound leaf. An individual leaf
may live for about a year before dying. The tuber then enters a short dormant
period before producing another leaf or flower.