hollyemail: How do you pollinate it once the bloom opens?
Stinky Expert: Very
carefully! No really, this is a great question. A good quality
paintbrush, preferably sable, is used to dab up the “donor pollen” and
is applied to the receptive stigmas of the female flowers on the first
night it opens, or on the following morning. The window of opportunity
for this is roughly one day, for on the first day after opening, the
male flowers shed their pollen and by this time the female flowers are
no longer receptive. This prevents autogamy, or self-pollination, in
order to maximize the distribution of genes and maintain presumably
more adaptive genetic diversity.
which types of climates does the Titan Arum thrive best, if someone
were to purchase the plant at The Huntington and transplant it into a
home garden here in Southern CA?
Stinky Expert: Native
to the equatorial rain forests of Sumatra, Titan Arum thrives best in
an evenly warm and humid environment such as a greenhouse. We recently
received a picture from someone who had one blooming in a container in
his backyard in Seal Beach.
asweiner: How long does it take for the bloom (inflorescence) to actually open? Minutes? Hours?
Stinky Expert: Actual bloom time varies, but in 1999, it was 7 hours from when the bloom started to open until it was fully open.
hswork: What taxonomic class, order, and family does genus Amorphophallus titanum belong to?
Stinky Expert: Family: Araceae, Order: Arales, Class: Liliopsida (monocots)
it flowers, how long before it closes down? In other words, once we get
word that it's in bloom, how quickly should we get over there and take
A Titan Arum in bloom is as rare as it is spectacular. A plant can go
for many years without flowering, and when it does the bloom lasts
only 1, 2 or sometimes 3 days. We'll keep you posted right here!
bill0976: I think I have one growing in my yard. Is that possible?
Stinky Expert: Great question! While Amorphophallus titanum is very rare, many similar (but much smaller) plants can be found growing in home gardens. The closest relative may be Amorphophalus rivieri,
which grows to a height of about four feet and smells nearly as bad as
its larger cousin. Two other related plants are the Dragon Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris), pictured at right, which grows to about two to three feet in height, and the Voodoo Lily (Sauromatum venosum),
which grows to 12 to 18 inches in overall height. Calla Lilies,
anthuriums, and philodendrons are also members of the same family.
eosturtz: What did The Huntington have to do in order to produce this flower?
Nothing – we’re The Huntington! No really, we didn’t do anything
special, we just gave it a warm environment like its home in Sumatra,
and stood back.
dnkb5: Is the plant also known as Rafflesia?
No, Rafflesia, although also from Indonesia and other parts of
southeast Asia, is in a different family and unrelated to
Amorphophallus. Rafflesia has the distinction of having the largest
individual flower, up to about 3 feet across.
7yhot00: Can I buy my own Stinky plant?
Expert: Yes! The Huntington has stinky plants available for sale in
the Bookstore & More for $250. What a great gift idea for Dads and
jkl089: I smelled it in 2002. It stinks! What makes it smell like rotten meat?
The chemicals responsible for the odor were once thought to be
putrescine and cadaverine, which are the chemicals that produce the
odor in decaying animal flesh. Researchers recently analyzed the odors
of several species of Amorphophallus, and found the chemicals
responsible for that of A. titanum (and other species) to be dimethyl
disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide. As a comparison, one of the
chemicals responsible for the odor of rotten eggs is hydrogen sulfide.
maryt77: Is the one that's going to bloom a male or female plant?
Both - even though it's commonly referred to as the world’s largest
“flower,” the Titan Arum is really a cluster of flowers called an
inflorescence. Hundreds of tiny flowers are hidden at the base of the
spadix. These flowers are where pollination occurs and where fruit and
seeds develop. The plants in nature do not fertilize themselves; the
female flowers open first and are only receptive for a short time,
after which the male flowers open. This ensures cross-pollination and