“TINY” – THE TITAN ARUM
BOTANICAL NAME - Amorphophallus titanum.
It was a week or so before christmas that the plant appeared at Gardenworld. It turned out that a staff member from
Collector’s corner, Marco, had bought the tuber quite a few years ago and then sold it to
his boss Jeno who had grown it on in a glasshouse at his wholesale nursery. That turned out to be a perfect place to protect the plant from Melbourne’s cold winters. It does of course come from the mountainous tropics of Sumatra in Indonesia. It was years later that the plant decided that it was actually going to flower. As the giant flower began to arise, it began growing at a rate of 10cm per day.
For about three or four days, Gardenworld patronage increased by over 40%. Quite literally there were people everywhere and the cafe was run off its feet. We’ve never before seen a plant create so much of a stir – not even the rose show could compete with this ! There were news crews doing stories and suddenly the mystical plant appeared in The Herald Sun and on Channel Seven news among other places. Crikey, even Costa from gardening Australia turned up. If you couldn’t make it in, there was even a live stream on Facebook. Yes people from all around the world tuned in. There was Titan Arum mania.
Pretty soon, after a few days, it was all over. There was one day of a perfect flower, and on this day this ‘corpse’ plant started getting all stinky in order to attract flies as pollinators. Then, quite strangely, the next day, the plant got stage fright and then actually closed. No amount of attention from the crowds could re-open it. A day of so later the flower collapsed and it was the end of the show – for this time. This was only a little guy, so when he comes back, maybe in a few years more, Tiny will be even bigger.
The only other plants we knew to have flowered in captivity in Australia were in the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The last time one flowered in Melbourne at the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBGM) was January 2013, you can read about that at this link.
This giant flowering Arum Lily rarely flowers in captivity. According to the RBGM, since its discovery in 1878 by Italian Odoardo Beccari, prior to 1989 only 21 flowering events had been recorded worldwide in any botanic garden. Since 1989 it has been done another 80 times, reflecting improved horticultural knowledge and practices.
This variety holds the world record of the largest un-branched flower.
Native to the tropical rain forests of Sumatra, the flower has been known to get up to three metres tall and over a metre wide.