October 21, 2005

Giant ‘corpse flower’ blooms in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - The world's tallest -- and smelliest --
flower has bloomed, reaching a height of 2.94 meters, 18
centimeters more than the previous record for the species, the
Stuttgart botanical garden said on Friday.

The Titan Arum, or Amorphophallus Titanum, nicknamed
"corpse flower" because of its putrid stench, blooms rarely and

Garden staff have nicknamed the purple flower "Diva" and
are charting its life on their web site, www.wilhelma.de.

But those keen for a glimpse, or a whiff, in person must be
quick: just 24 hours after the 11 year-old plant produced its
first flower, the bloom began to wilt on Friday.

The Titan Arum was discovered in 1878 in its sole
indigenous habitat, the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and grows
in cultivation in only a handful of places around the world.

Its scent has been likened to rotting fish or animal flesh.

"The smell is crucial to its survival in its natural
habitat because it attracts pollinating carrion beetles and
flesh flies," said botanist Franziska Lo-Kockel.

Lo-Kockel brought the bulb of the plant, weighing some 40
kilograms, from the University of Frankfurt to the Stuttgart
gardens 11 years ago.