The Titan Arum at Kew Gardens. This amazing and massive flower smells dreadful, its known as the corpse flower, which would give an indication of the type of dreadful smell, the plant actually heats itself up to create the smell. This is intended to attract carrion flies and is the main reason for the short time of its life, it’s energy is used up in the “burn”.
In cultivation, the size of the plant mostly attracts humans who are then repelled by it’s scent.
Its a real star of the horticultural world – and it is growing in Kew Gardens, here in England. One was grown in the USA at the Botanical Gardens in New York where it flowered for the first time in 1937, drawing huge crowds of people.
It is a native plant to Sumatra, growing from an immense tuber, the flowering can be 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide, although what we see is not actually the flower, there are male and female small flowers that occur at the base of the spathe which is the upturned bell, which looks rather like the actual flower.
After the long, pointed spadix rises, the spathe opens quickly and only remains open briefly, red berries are formed from the fertilised flowers. The fertilisation is carried out by hand in Kew.
When not in flower, there is a huge leaf which can be around 20 feet in height and about 15 feet across.