Titan arum or amorphophallus titanum is the largest unbranched inflorescence seen anywhere around the globe. And they can grow up to a size of 10 ft. This weirdly human-seeming flora reeks of decaying flesh once it starts to bloom. It even looks like flesh with a color of deep red and meaty texture.
While it is in bloom, the temperature of the flower’s insides matches us humans’ temperature. The heat further helps create the illusion of a carcass, which attracts a swarm of insects. This is one intelligent way this plant disseminates its seeds.
Tallest Cultivated Titan Arum Stands At 10 Ft And 2.25 Inches
If the conditions are right, this corpse flower can grow 4-5 inches in one day. As they near bloom, they grow so rapidly that, if not kept an eye on, one can easily miss the blooming process. While the plant takes 7-10 years for its initial maturity, it’s bloom lasts only around a day or two. And the stench can last for days!
The odor has been reported to be a mixture of cheese, fermented fish, sweaty old socks, and even feces.
Although the plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, due to the efforts of many researchers and botanists, other people around the world can see it too.
One of these species bloomed in Barnard College’s greenhouse in New York this year, while another bloomed at the Outback Trail section of Franklin Park Zoo. Due to the pandemic related restrictions, visitors could not see the gigantic flower bloom. And so, the college authorities kindly decided to live stream the entire process.
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Hilary Callahan, director of the greenhouse and biological science professor at the college told media sources that the corpse plant was gifted to them by the Botanical Garden in Brooklyn. She added that although the plant shoots out a leaf per year until it matures, the intricate process is still a mystery to the biologists. Commenting on the odor, she said that it wasn’t necessarily unpleasant. She further added that it smelled like cheese or just your loved one’s feet.
Although the fate of the corpse plant is to bloom, wither away, and regenerate, the college authorities have decided to let this one live. Once the flower blooms, they will try to preserve the blossom by drying it intact. Then the bottom part will be cleaned and repotted. And under the right conditions, they hope the gigantic titan arum will flower again in the coming years.
Corpse Plant First Bloomed Under Cultivation In London In 1937
The plant first bloomed under cultivation, away from the Indonesian wild, in London at the Royal Botanic Garden in the year 1889. And since then, the plant has been transported to America as well. The blooming process was first documented in 1937, at the Botanical Garden, New York.
The rotting plant has garnered such an interest worldwide that it’s growth even attracted the Guinness World Record. In 2010, “Tilly the Titan” broke the world record for being the tallest cultivated titan arum. Dr. Louis Ricciardiello’s gigantic flower stood tall at 10 feet and 2.25 inches.
This corpse plant is just one among many of nature’s hidden gems. It looks like whatever we can imagine is already under the sun.
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