Back in 2012 I had the opportunity to see one of nature’s most beautiful and unusual flowers at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. On Saturday I relived that experience and was able to see a much more impressive specimen compared to my last visit.
This exotic and astonishing flower is known as Amorphophallus titanum, commonly referred to as the Titan Arum or Stink Lily. It is world famous for its flower but also for the horrid odor it produces when it first starts to bloom. In my previous post about the Titan arum I talked about its discovery and history. As a small recap, Amorphophallus titanum was discovered by an Italian botanist by the name of Odoardo Beccari, who is best known for the discovery of the Titan Arum in Sumatra in 1878. Beccari discovered many new species of plants out on his expeditions, many from the Arecaceae family which is also referred to as Palmaceae. This botanical family is made up of perennial trees such as palms, shrubs and Liana species.
I will link my first post on the Titan Arum and if you are interested, click here:
This Amorphophallus titanum has been recorded as the tallest out of all the others that have flowered at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, reaching a total height of 2.61 metres. The flower I saw and in the photos, was re-potted on the 22nd of December last year. During each re-potting the tuber (root) is measured and weighed, and this Titan Arum’s tuber weighed a total of 34kg! This may sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the largest tuber on record it seems pretty light. The largest tuber was measured at the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, weighing a massive 153.95kg!
You might be wondering how or why do the tubers get so large? It is a good question, and it has quite an easy answer. Amorphophallus titanum produce one leaf every 12 – 18 months, and as the leaf begins to die the nutrients are carried down into the tuber, thus feeding it and making it grow bigger until a flower is produced. In most cases the tuber will only flower once every 7 – 10 years. I always feel very happy when I am in the presence of such a plant, and it is always a delight to witness such a beautiful bloom.
I feel very lucky that I went to see it when I did because the flower has collapsed. For regular updates you can check out the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Facebook page.
By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs