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Britain's biggest flower

See footage of the giant bloom in our Rainforest Biome.

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Botanical information

Perennial herb with largest collection of flowers (inflorescence) in the world. Solitary inflorescence with leaf-like structure (spathe) surrounding a fleshy spike (spadix). Spathe approx. 3m in circumference, pale green and spotted white on outside, rich dark crimson colour on inside. Spadix up to 2m tall, dull yellow colour, hollow and expanded at base. Solitary leaf produced after flower, can exceed 4m wide. Leaf stalk (petiole) pale green spotted with white. Pollinated by beetles and flies.

Facts

  • The flower is only open for 48 hours and attracts insect pollinators with its stench of rotting flesh.
  • This plant rarely blooms in cultivation but Tim Grigg, a horticulturist at Eden’s nursery, has had a remarkable success rate having produced many for display in the Rainforest Biome. He has to hand-pollinate the individual flowers. They can take up to seven years to bloom.
  • This arum is related to the cuckoo pint (lords and ladies) found in British hedgerows.
  • The swollen underground storage stem (tuber) can weigh more than 75kg.

Where it grows

Rainforest in western Sumatra, Indonesia, on steep hillsides that are 120–365m above sea level.

Conservation story

The titan arum is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Wildlife facts

When the inflorescence is fully open, it produces an overpowering stench of rotting flesh to attract insect pollinators such as carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies.

Glossary

  • Herb: plant with fleshy parts rather than a persistent woody stem above ground.
  • Perennial: lives for at least two years.

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