From The Plant Encyclopedia
|The largest flower on Earth.|
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19 - 20
- Cultivation: For-Horticulturists
- Light: Part-Shade
- Soil: Rich
- pH: 8, 9
- Moisture: Bog
- Form: Herbaceous
- Habit: Perennial
- Flower: Large, Orange, Red, Purple, Black
- Fruit/Seed: Large, Fruit.Nut, Orange, Red, Brown
- Foliage: Leaves, Green, Black
- Uses: Ornamental
The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "Phallus", and titan, "giant") is a Flowering plant with the largest unbranched Inflorescence in the world. (The largest single flower is borne by the Rafflesia arnoldii; the largest branched inflorescence in the Plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera). It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra. Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as a Carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" ( – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the Rainforests of Sumatra).
The popular name titan arum was invented by the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, for his BBC TV series The Private Life of Plants, in which the flowering and pollination of the plant were filmed for the first time. Attenborough felt that constantly referring to the plant as Amorphophallus on a popular TV documentary would be inappropriate. In fact, most titan arum plants in cultivation were grown from seeds collected by Dr. James Symon and Wilbert Hetterscheid during filming.
The titan arum's Inflorescence can reach over in height. Like the related cuckoo pint and Calla lily, it consists of a fragrant Spadix of flowers wrapped by a Spathe, which looks like the flower's single petal. In the case of the Titan Arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange Carpels. The "fragrance" of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting Carrion-eating Beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The flower's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.
Both male and female flowers grow in the same Inflorescence. The female flowers open first, then a day or two following, the male flowers open. This prevents the flower from self-pollinating.
After the flower dies back, a single leaf, which reaches the size of a small tree, grows from the underground Corm. The leaf grows on a semi-green stalk that branches into three sections at the top, each containing many leaflets. The leaf structure can reach up to tall and across. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place. When the corm has stored enough energy, it becomes dormant for about 4 months. Then, the process repeats.
The corm is the largest known, weighing around . When a specimen at the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Gardens, was repotted after its dormant period, the weight was recorded as .
In 2005, the tallest bloom in cultivation, some 2.74 m (8 ft. 11 in.) high, was achieved at the Botanical Garden of the University of Bonn in Germany in 2003. The event was acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records.
On 20 October 2005, this record was broken at the botanical and zoological garden Wilhelma in Stuttgart, Germany. The bloom reached a height of 2.94 m (9 ft. 6 in.).
- Bown, Deni (2000). Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family. Timber Press. ISBN 0881924857
- Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Newsletter, volume 15 number 1.