Today we went to see the Titan Arum flower at Tropical Glasshouse in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens. The common name is Corpse Flower and the botanic name is Amorphophallus titanum. It was the second time for the plant to bloom, the first one was around Christmas Day back in 2012. Usually a Titan arum plant will flower about every 7 years, so it is really special for this rare plant to bloom again within 3 year period.
This time the flower was in full bloom yesterday Saturday March 14, and today it has started to wilt. The gigantic petal has started to close up. The good thing of seeing it not during full bloom is the less stench that the flower emits. When it is in full bloom, it will release very strong rotting meat smell to attract insects for the purpose of pollination. Yesterday the flower was measured 2.61 m high.
When we arrived at Gate E along Birdwood Ave, it was a short walk to the Tropical Glasshouse. It was a long queue and took us around 1-1/2 hours (90 mins) to wait to get in. When we got inside the glasshouse, the bad smell had already started to fade. No need to cover our nose at all :) It was a pity that we could not stroll to see other parts of the garden as the parking limit was only for 2 hours.
For me, it was the second time I saw Amorphophallus flower. The first time was when I was still a child in our family property in Central Java. It was a very hot day, my sister and I felt like eating sweet juicy sugar cane. We asked one of the workers to cut some sugar canes that grew next to the house at that time. Suddenly the old man ran back and asked my sister and I to come and have a look. There hiding among the sugar cane plants, was a very large flower that look so strange and smelled so bad. In Indonesia Amorphophallus flower is called Bunga Bangkai which means Corpse Flower, while in Javanese language Titan arum plant is called ‘Suweg Raksasa’ (giant suweg). The name ‘Suweg’ actually refers not only to Titan Arum but also for other Amorphophallus species that grow in Java.
During my childhood back in 1950 – 1960s we often saw these plants that had very peculiar leaves and spotted stems. We nicknamed them ‘snake food plant’. Unfortunately it was only once we saw it bloom. I still remember the ‘very large, very tall and very smelly Suweg flower’ looked similar to the Titan Arum, but the long spadix was red meat colour and looked somewhat thicker.
Note: This blog was last edited 16/03/2015 4.32 PM
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