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The Titans Are Coming

18 May 2006
 The Titan Blooms

 The Titans always attract attention with their size, rarity,
brief flowering period and famous almighty stink! 

The mighty titan at the Bonn Botanic Garden, for whom the titan arum is so important it forms their logo, has seen the first ever triple bloom of the mighty stinking plant. This phenomenon has never before been observed, anywhere in the world.

Last Saturday, around 14.45pm  the two largest  buds began to unfold. Due to the close proximity of the extraordinary buds, the protective sheaths could open not completely. Special opening hours were introduced so the public could see the brief phenomenon and the last visitors left just before midnight.

The following day well over 5.000 visitors queues up to an hour and a half in order to admire the Titanenwurz. On Monday the bloom was removed by scientists at the garden for investigation.

Not to be daunted, the Titan presented it's third bud on Tuesday, at around 13.30pm.

And as if there were some plant-telepathy going on, the Fairchild Botanic Garden's "Audrey III" is in bloom today. The Amorphophallus titanum in Florida was repotted on March 15, 2006 when she began to come out of a dormant period, just as the German plant was blooming.

 Amorphophallus c. Jennifer Davit/Fairchild BG
 The Fairchild arum is blooming

amongst the Chihuly
Image © Jennifer Davit/
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

 When she was repotted, the tuber (the plant's underground stem or root system) weighed over 100 pounds and was 12" high, 24" in diameter and had a circumference of 77". According to Mike Davenport, Fairchild's Director of Living Collections and Garden Landscapes, this amazing flower could produce a bloom as tall as eight feet high. "It looks like it will be the largest Amorphophallus bloom we have ever had at Fairchild and possibly in the U.S.," says Davenport.

When the bloom fully opens, which is often at night, it is ready for pollination. The Titan is best known for its intensely powerful stench that is released when the bloom opens. This odor is alluring to the plant's natural pollinators, which may be sweat bees or carrion beetles.

"It really stinks, kind of like rotten meat," says one Fairchild staffer. "I couldn't believe that one plant could cause such a stench!" The plant's stench is released in waves when the bloom first opens and is most powerful during the first few hours it's open.

Perhaps it's the stink that allows the plants to communicate with each other...or maybe they have a premonition that they are close to extinction, and are making a last gasp for life.

See the German Titan on the webcam

Find out more about Titan Arums 

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