Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Titan Arum - Amorphophallus titanum

Titan Arum flowering events at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney

>> Photos of the Titan Arum flowers growing - and dying - in 2006.

>> Download movie of our Titan Arum flower in 2004.

Fascinating Facts about the Titan Arum

  • The Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) has the largest - and possibly the smelliest - flower in the world. Four of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust's Titan Arums have already flowered in the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.
  • The scientific name Amorphophallus titanum, means ‘huge deformed penis’; its Indonesian common name, bunga bangkai, roughly translated means ‘corpse flower’.
  • The Titan Arum grow in the wild in the rainforests of western Sumatera in Indonesia.
  • The Titan Arum’s flowering structure grows about 10 centimetres (4 inches) a day to a height of up to 2.9 m.

  • The ultimate size for a mature Amorphophallus titanum is: spadix - 2 to 2.9 metres (7 to 12 feet), leaf height - 6 metres (20 feet), leaf width - 4.5 metres (15 feet), tuber (corm) - 70 kilograms (150 pounds)

  • While the Titan Arum is a sight to behold, its closest relatives - the familiar philodendrons and calla or arum lilies - are less imposing.

  • The first European to discover the monster plant was Italian botanist and explorer Dr Odoardo Beccari in Indonesia in 1878. After digging up the plant he discovered that its giant flower came from a huge underground stem, or ‘tuber’, that had to be carried by two men. The tuber can weigh as much as 100 kilograms (220 pounds)!

  • The Titan Arum creates such a stink because when the flower is fully open, it gets hot and emits a repulsive scent that is attractive to its pollinators.

  • It first opens at night, and becomes so hot it steams.

  • Its heat and foul scent deceive carcass-eating insects into visiting the flower and pollinating it.

  • It only lasts about 3 days before collapsing.

  • It grows up from an underground tuber which may weigh up to 70 kg and which can stay dormant for 1-3 years.

  • The tuber produces only one leaf at a time; the leaf can be as much as 6 m tall and 4.5 m wide.

  • The tuber produces leaf and flower at different times.

Where does the Titan Arum grow?

natural distirbution

Amorphophallus titanum occurs naturally in a few locations in Sumatera, Indonesia. However, you may be lucky enough to see a plant in flower at:

  • Kebun Raya Bogor (West Java)
  • Cibodas (Cipanas, West Java)
  • Purwodadi (Pasuruan, East Java)
  • Eka Karya (Bedugul, Bali)
  • The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney
  • Other botanic gardens in Europe and North America  

Factors contributing to the threat of extinction of the Titan Arum

  • Over-collection from wild populations for horticultural purposes
  • Habitat destruction - occurring through much of Indonesia at an alarming rate,
  • Ecosystem breakdown - loss of pollinators and seed distributors, due to poaching and loss of habitat,
  • Vandalism of plants in the wild.

Saving Amorphophallus titanum - what can we do?

YOU can help -

  • DO NOT collect or damage plants in the forest.
  • DO NOT buy animals or birds, such as hornbills, that have been poached from the forest - they help to pollinate the flowers and disperse the seed of many plants.
  • DO JOIN a conservation group to learn more and to try and influence others.
  • Try to buy plantation timber so as to save the Titan Arum's habitat.
  • If you would like to support us with the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust - Kebun Raya Bogor collaborative conservation project.

Titan Arum with leaf 
Titan Arum with one mature leaf.

titan arum 
Titan Arum flower growing in the Kebun Raya at Bogor in Indonesia

fruit
Titan Arum fruit