Amorphophallus titanum (Becc.) Becc. ex Arcang.
- Common Name: Titan Arum, Corpse Flower, Bunga Bangkai
- Family: Araceae Juss.
- Country of Origin: Sumatra
- Habitat: equatorial rainforests on limestone hills
- Description: Amorphophallus titanum, the titan arum, is a tuberous plant endemic to western Sumatra, where it grows in openings in rainforest on limestone hills. Locals know it by the more evocative name 'corpse flower' (bunga bangkai), because of the hideous stench the fly-pollinated inflorescences produce.
Mature tubers of A. titanum typically weigh between 25 and 50 kg, with weights up to 75 kg recorded. Tubers produce solitary, highly dissected leaves over 3 m high and 4 m across. Leaves persist for ca. 1-2 years. The plant enters a dormant phase of several months after a leaf senesces, before sending up a replacement leaf and growing a new root system. Leaves are hysteranthous: flowers are borne by otherwise dormant plants. The timing of dormancy and growth phases seems to be more or less random with respect to the seasons; wild populations are reported to have plants in various stages of growth at any given time. It is unclear why the plants ever go dormant at all, given their equatorial habitat.
Flower buds emerge shortly after tubers become dormant, and are accompanied by the development of a limited root system, unlike the flowers of temperate Amorphophallus species. Inflorescences consist of a fluted spathe (petal-like leaf) with a meat-like purple interior, and a sickly-yellow spadix (central stem bearing many small male and female flowers). While technically not single flowers, the inflorescences of A. titanum are the largest flower-like structures in the plant kingdom, often reaching 2 m high and 1 m in diameter, or larger. While open, the spadix warms itself with metabolic heat, in what is perhaps an adaptation to volatilize and disperse its carrion-insect-attracting odor. The putrid smell of the corpse flower is strongest just after the spathe unfurls, late at night, suggesting pollination by nocturnal flies and beetles.
The following YouTube video features our 2011 bloom and was produced for us by UConn Today:
- Culture: Corpse flowers require warm temperatures, high humidity, and bright light, with some shade in summer. Plants appreciate fairly heavy fertilization. The soil should be kept moist at all times, even during dormancy. Propagation is apparently possible with leaf and tuber cuttings, though we have not had much luck.
Blooming records for this accession:
- The largest plant (corm #5) bloomed for the first time on July 6th, 2004
- It bloomed again on May 12th, 2007.
- The #3 corm bloomed for the first time three weeks later on June 1st, 2007
- July 1st 2008 - the #5 corm is preparing to bloom for the third time - this time after a 13 month dormancy with no intervening leaf stage. A first?
- 2011 - #5 corm, 159cm
- 2012 - #3 corm - late June flowering - 98cm as of 10 June
- Species Vulnerable or Habitat Critically Threatened
Additional images for this accession:Click on thumbnails to enlarge
- Accession # 199500115
- Source: James R. Symon - (Aroid-L)
- Provenance: Our A. titanum plants were started in 1994, from seed collected in the wild by James R. Symon.
- Recorded Vouchers: CONN Accession #: 129335
- Accession Date: 03-29-1995
- Bench: 3310 - Ground Bed
- Qty: 1 confirmed on 05-22-2013
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Liliopsida
- SubClass: monocots
- Order: Alismatales
- Family: Araceae
- SubFamily: Aroideae
- Tribe: Thomsonieae
- Hortus Third, LH Bailey Hortorium, 1976 Bown, D. 1988.
- Aroids: Plants of the Arum Family. Timber Press, Portland, Or. Pickrell, J. 2003.
data regenerated on Wed, 22 May 2013 06:38:50 -0400