Catch a glimpse of the rare but smelly titan arum

7th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

The National Botanic Garden in Meise has extended its opening hours to 10 pm on Thursday so the public can view the titan arum.

7 August 2008

BELGIUM - Long-awaited by many, the Amorphophallus titanium, aka titan arum in Meise’s National Botanic Garden has finally started to blossom.

The flower is a first to Belgium.

A gift from Bonn’s Botanic Garden, the National Botanic Garden in Meise in Flemish Brabant owns two titan arum plants.

Much to the botanical gardeners’ surprise, one of them recently showed signs of a flower bud.

“We didn’t think the plant would flower until 2010. I was so amazed when I saw that instead of a leaf, it was a flower bud that emerged from the soil,” manager Viviane Leyman says.

In the wild, titan arums flower for three days every three years. Because of this, staff at the Botanic Garden awaited the flowering in suspense.

When in season, the titan arum gives off a truly obnoxious smell, best to be compared to the one of a human body in decay. Perceivable from a distance of up to 800 metres, the odour is meant to attract pollinators.

Because the titan arum is in fact an inflorescence consisting of a great many tiny flowers, the plant isn’t actually the world’s largest flower. That title is reserved for the rafflesia that like the titan arum has its natural habitat in the Sumatran rain forest.

The Botanic Garden advises its more fainthearted visitors to keep a handkerchief at hand at all times.

“The insalubrious combination of the flower’s smell and the tropical heat inside the botanic greenhouse may cause some people to faint,” it is said.

Botanic Garden stays open late
Reports of the giant flower have drawn scores of visitors the Botanic Garden in Meise.

So as to give every single one of them the opportunity to witness the natural splendour, the National Botanic Garden has decided to extend its opening hours to 10pm on Thursday.

For more information, visit the National Botanic Garden's website.

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