World’s largest flower flowering

This is a Titan arum video.

The world’s largest, smelliest flower is the Titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum. They flower but rarely, and briefly. Only Sumatra island in Indonesia is their natural habitat.

In the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands, two days ago, one specimen started flowering.

It was 1.8 meter in height today.

Next to the specimen whose flowers are now withering is another one, which is still growing, not flowering yet. Today, it was 1.25 meter.

Amorphophallus titanum has both male and female flowers. These cannot pollinate each other within the same plant. In Sumatra, the strong smell of the flowers attracts insects, carrion beetles, which take the pollen from one Titan arum to another one. In the Netherlands, these beetles do not occur. So, a botanical garden employee was “playing at being a carrion beetle”, to make it possible for the early Titan arum to eventually pollinate the later, still smaller, one; which will probably flower next Thursday. In Sumatra, the Titan arum berries are eaten by hornbill birds, which, like the carrion beetles, help this big flower species survive.

Amorphophallus is a genus with about 200 species, from Africa to Indonesia. Many species are not really big, about 20 centimeter. Only on Indonesian islands like Borneo and Sumatra, giant species occur.

Outside the Amorphophallus’ hothouse, a common tern flying over the botanical garden.

This is a video about the botanical garden.

A. titanum in Japan: here.

Titan arums are true giants amongst flowering plants: the circumference of their huge flowers can be over three metres and they stand three metres high and the single leaf grows to the size of a small tree. Their smell, likened to rotting meat, is so bad it led to the common name ‘corpse flower’. Both the ‘fragance’ and the flower’s meat-colouration attract pollinators – carrion flies and beetles. The common name was given by Sir David Attenborough during the filming of the Private Life of Plants series.

This corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum, shares that evocative moniker with the Rafflesia genus of plants, which also have giant blooms, and also smell like corpses, but are not closely related: here.

3 thoughts on “World’s largest flower flowering

  1. In maart van dit jaar is de bedreigde plantensoort Encephalartos altensteinii in de Wintertuin bestoven. Uit de kegels van het mannelijke exemplaar is een grote hoeveelheid stuifmeel afgenomen. Hiermee zijn de vrouwelijke kegels bevrucht en daaruit zijn 200 zaden voortgekomen.

    Dit is de eerste keer dat zo’n bevruchting gelukt is sinds deze planten in Leiden zijn (1851). Onlangs zijn weer een aantal dames bevrucht en over zes maanden weten we of deze 2e poging ook succesvol was.


  2. Pingback: Tropical snails in Dutch hothouses | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Amorphophallus flowers in Adelaide, Australia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.