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Giant flowering Titan arum in Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

Amorphophallus titanumAmorphophallus titanum more commonly known as the Titan arum.

For over 160 years The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (RBGM) have provided civic joy for Victorians. For a few days over christmas holidays in 2012-2013, this once in approx 7 year event occurred – the flowering of the famous Titan arum – the worlds largest unbranched inflorescence (large cluster of flowers) on a plant.

Thanks to former guest blogger Robyn Holloway from 3aw, we have these amazing shots of this magnificent flower.

UPDATE: Bonnie-Marie, our 2012 Victorian Apprentice of the year also went – read her first hand experience here. She reported, “Standing easily at 2.5 meters, close to 8.5 feet, it is definitely a stand still moment. When you’re in the presence of such a plant you finally get to understand just how much of an honour it is to see something so beautiful and unique. It really is a once in a life time opportunity.  It is hard to comprehend just how quickly this flower forms and then dies, growing at a speed of 10cm per day which is just astonishing! I was able to talk with one of the gardeners and I found out that the tuber weighed 36kg and when you compare that to the record holder of 117kg, it’s mind blowing!”

It is also known as the corpse flower for its rotting stink, but Robyn said, ” No odour yet as the lily is not quite out, however maybe tomorrow.”  (reported on 27th December 2012). Of course this odour is to aid pollination by attracting bugs, insects and flies.

The plant comes from Sumatra in Indonesia and is unfortunately a vunerable species because of extensive logging. It can however still be found in mountainous rainforests in the west of the island.

According to the RBGM, since its discovery in 1878 by Italian Odoardo Beccari, prior to 1989 only 21 florweing events had been recorded worldwide in any botanic garden. Since 1989 it has been done another 80 times, reflecting improved horticultural knowledge and practices.

In 2006, This tuber was donated by The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney to The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

Many thanks again to Robyn and Kate for the pictures. There is also a terrific youtube video of the event below.

Amorphophallus titanum

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