ISI 2005-11. Amorphophallus titanum Becc

The “stench smelled round the world” emanated from the Huntington’s “corpse flower” or “titan arum” in August 1999, when considerable media attention was focused on the rare flowering of this massive aroid (member of the Philodendron family, the Araceae). See the Amorphophallus page on this website for additional information and images of the 2014 bloom.

The plant surprised us by flowering again in August 2002. Pollen harvested from our plant was used to pollinate UC Santa Barbara’s with considerable success. We have been growing some of the progeny, doling them out to botanic gardens, but now we have enough for a limited public offering. Our plants are currently in 6" pots and have one or more leaves to a meter tall. Mature leaves are tree-like to 3 m with a mottled petiole resembling a lichen-encrusted tree trunk to 20 cm diameter and with an umbrella-like canopy formed by the divided leaf blade.

While not a succulent, A. titanum does have a large, subterranean tuber for storing water and nutrients that sustain the plant during its periodic but erratic dormant periods. These are not strictly annual, but follow several years of growth and the alternate flowering phases. The species is endemic to Sumatra and therefore requires warm and somewhat humid growing conditions. Ours do well in our succulent mix (60% pumice, 20% sand, 20% compost) in a greenhouse under 50 to 70% shade with temperatures between 70 and 90°F year-round. HBG 89999, from controlled pollination of UCSB 95001 and HBG 85000. $100.

Photo © 2005 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 77 (2), March - April, 2005