Date posted: 18 December 2015
In a South Australian first, one of the world’s largest flowers – known for a stench likened to rotting flesh – looks likely to bloom at Mount Lofty Botanic Gardenin the next fortnight.
The Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) – found in the rainforests of Sumatra – is commonly known as the Corpse Flower, and it can grow up to three metres tall.
The flower’s height, combined with a giant yellow phallic spike (spadix), burgundy upturned skirt (spathe) and that nauseating smell, has turned the Titan arum into a rockstar of the plant world, and a major boon for any botanic gardens who manage to get the endangered plant to flower.
Horticultural Curator of Plant Propagation Matt Coulter said the Gardens sourced the seed through a donation in 2006 and the prospect of a flowering event in SA was thrilling.
“The Titan Arum is notoriously difficult to cultivate and even in optimum conditions it can take seven years for the plant to flower from seed,” Mr Coulter said.
“At the moment it’s a day-by-day inspection, but once the spathe starts to grow vigorously we’ll know we have about a week until it flowers.
“The anticipation here is high and if it flowers the public will have roughly 48 hours to see and smell it in all its glory, before it collapses in on itself in a heap!”
Botanic Gardens acting director Janice Goodwins said to have a Titan arum – which are threatened by deforestation in the wild – set to bloom is a credit to the Gardens’ passionate, persistent and expert staff.
“The Titan arum really is one of the world’s most fascinating plants, and we’re ecstatic the South Australian public will likely have the opportunity to see it,” Ms Goodwins said.
“Visitors will gain an appreciation of the wonder of nature, and for the important work being done by botanic gardens to help conserve vulnerable plants around the world.”
Mr Coulter and Botanic Gardens staff are monitoring the plant’s progress daily and plans are in place to open Mount Lofty Botanic Garden’s Nursery to the public for the SA first. The nursery isn't open to the public during normal operating hours.
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