Cambridge's Stinking Plant Is About To Flower Again

22 June 2017, 06:32

smells of rotting flesh

By Bev Rimmer

There's something really distinctive about the Titan Arum, otherwise known as Amorphophallus Titanum.

It's not just the fact it's dormant for anything up to and above a decade. 

It's not just its rich deep purple colour when it eventually does flower. 

It's the fact it REEKS - of ROTTING MEAT. 

Why does it do this? It's a survival thing. 

Titan Arum smells so badly because it attracts carrion bugs, who then help to pollinate the plant. 

There are two of these native Indonesian rainforest plants housed in Cambridge University Botanic Garden. One flowered two years ago; but the second one hasn't shown its colours (or its stink) since 2005. 

Glasshouse keeper Alex Summers told Heart: "Titan is a massive tuber. Think of a potato having to put out a three-metre flower.

"That takes so much energy; and is why the Titan only flowers every ten years or so.

"There have only been about a hundred flowerings in cultivation since it was discovered in the late 1890s."

Titan Arum is native to the island of Sumatra, and thrives best in dappled sunlight with a minimum of 18°C.

It shows signs of being about to flower when its leaves start to flush purple.

When the other Titan, ironically named "Tiny," flowered in 2015, in excess of 10,000 people poured through the glasshouse doors to see and smell it. 

It's hoped Titan Number Two, that isn't named yet, will do the same. The Botanic Garden usually opens late for the duration of Titan's flowering - which is only usually two days!

If you're quick, you can vote for Titan #2's name in a Twitter Poll here: @CUBotanicGarden