Amorphophallus titanum

Quick Characteristics:

Height: 250-300 cm (8.2-9.8 ft)
Flower Colors: purple
Life form: tuber

Amorphophallus titanum has the largest unbranched inflorescence of all plants. The species is endemic to the island of Sumatra. It grows entirely in tropical climates. Mature plants transition between forming a flower, then dormancy, then forming a leaf, with each period lasting about six months apart. The flowers are said to have an unpleasant smell, although some plants don't seem to smell at all. Once extremely rare, botanical gardens around the world now have cultivated enough stock to sell young plants to the public. There is a paper by W. Barthlott, J. Szarzynski, P. Vlek, W. Lobin, and N. Korotkova that analyzes the heat of the spadix entitled A torch in the rain forest: thermogenesis of the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum).

The first photo below of the flower in bloom was taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Botanical Garden. The second photo taken by Bob Rutemoeller shows the fruit that followed after the August 2007 flowering. Photos 3, 4 and 5 taken by Colin Davis show the inflorescence from a distance and up close, with a window cut out of the spathe showing male and female flowers. Photo 5 shows a rooted cutting from a leaf tip.

Amorphophallus titanum, Nhu NguyenAmorphophallus titanum fruit, Bob RutemoellerAmorphophallus titanum, Colin DavisAmorphophallus titanum inflorescence, Colin DavisAmorphophallus titanum rooted cutting, Colin Davis

On Easter Sunday 2011 Gary Meltzer's Amorphophallus titanum flowered in Hilo, Hawaii, and the plant was taken to the zoo in order that the public could enjoy it too; this was the first recorded blooming of this aroid in Hawaii. While in bloom he contacted the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and a botanist - Dr. Elizabeth Stacey - readily agreed to help in the pollination. She brought her graduate class to witness what may be a once in a lifetime event too. Pollen was received from Binghamton University in New York state, so the end result was a nationwide effort. All seeds were distributed to public gardens and universities that would display them in the future. A member of the public took a short video of it at the zoo. Another video showing the pollination a little better.

Photo 1 and 3 by Gary Meltzer, photo 2 by Dick Murdy. Photo 1 shows the tuber which weighed 60 pounds/ 27 kg when last dormant along with 30 cm pasta spoon for scale and photo 3 the fruiting body with 45 cm ruler.

Amorphophallus titanum tuber, Gary MeltzerAmorphophallus titanum bloom, Dick MurdyAmorphophallus titanum fruiting body, Gary Meltzer

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Page last modified on March 02, 2024, at 02:08 PM
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