World's Largest and Stinkiest Flower to Bloom in Brooklyn--Witness the Makings of History with First-Ever Flowering of Amorphophallus titanum at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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World's largest and smelliest flower, titan arum, will bloom for the first time at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Visitors are welcome to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see -- and smell -- this incredible plant. Plus watch the amazing seven-inch per day growth on BBG's live webcam at http://www.bbg.org/titan

After more than 10 years of cultivation, the extraordinary plant Amorphophallus titanum will bloom for the first time at BBG. Titan arum boasts three chart-topping peculiarities: it is one of the world’s largest flowers; it is an Indonesian species that is endangered in the wild and rare in cultivation; and one of the most malodorous plants with a trademark carrion odor that has been likened to anything from dirty socks to the Gowanus Canal on a hot day. The plant is commonly called the corpse flower due to the strong odor it emits to attract fly, beetle, and sweat bee pollinators. The plant also grows an incredible five to seven inches a day.

This is the first-ever flowering of one of these rare and threatened plants at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the first time one has bloomed in New York since 1939. BBG’s titan arum is also distinguished because it was grown from seed. The plant is so rare that plant experts in search of the flower have commented that one could repeatedly search the equatorial tropical rainforests of Sumatra – the only native habitat for the titan plant – and still never find it there.

The historic blooming also offers BBG another opportunity, albeit an extraordinary one, to showcase the Garden’s dedication to its mission to educate, pursue scientific research, display plants and practice the high art of horticulture, and to actively arouse public awareness of the fragility of our natural environment – and provide information about ways to conserve and protect it.

Where: 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. A special exhibit in the Garden’s world-famous C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum will house the titan’s blooming phenomenon beginning Friday, August 4, 2006.

Free with Garden admission, visitors are encouraged to come often to witness and compare the unusual and rapid growth of the plant—culminating in a bloom that can reach up to nine feet in height and only last for a few days. Related to the Calla Lily and the philodendron, the Amorphophallus starts life as an enormous tuber and produces a single giant leaf petiole, which can reach up to 20 feet in height and width.

From a strict botanical sense, the large blossom is not a true flower but rather an inflorescence – or collection of flowers. The cream-colored spike or spadex will turn reddish, and as it reaches maturity, the spathe opens to form a vast, ribbed, frilly-edged trumpet – greenish on the outside and reddish on the inside.

BBG’s world-class Horticulture staff affectionately named the Amorphophallus “Baby” because it reflects the tender loving care and nurturing that Foreman of Conservatories Mark Fisher, Plant Propagator Alessandro Chiari, and the team of BBG gardeners and horticulturists devoted to the plant over the last decade. Because the cultivation needs of the plant are so demanding and specialized, botanical gardens provide a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy and appreciate this threatened species.

When: “Baby” is ESTIMATED to bloom beginning Thursday, August 10. Track the plant’s minute by minute progress on the live video cam (available soon) on bbg.org/titan.

Media: Watch “Baby” on the live videocam; Read daily updates on the BBG blog; View a photo gallery, Plus track the plant’s rapid growth on bbg.org/titan. Also, find links to articles on the natural history of the titan arum, the history of BBG's specimen, and information about growing and conserving this threatened species.

Also, visitors can call the information hotline at (718) 623-7333 for updates on the plant’s progress.

Background:

First discovered in 1878 in Sumatra, Indonesia by Dr. Odoardo Beccari.

  • Considered to be the most spectacular bloom in the plant world.
  • The titan is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world and can be taller than a man.
  • A mature bloom could ultimately measure 7-12 feet in height.
  • A mature leaf could measure 20 feet in height and 15 feet in diameter.
  • Mature plant releases powerful waves of odor to attract pollinators.
  • Amorphophallus means "shapeless phallus."
  • The bloom will last only 2-3 days. After blooming the flower collapses.
  • The "stinking" odor lasts only the first 8 hours the bloom is open and compels thousands of visitors to discover what “the stink” is about for themselves.
  • Common known members of this interesting group include philodendrons, caladiums, calla lilies and anthuriums.

Photography:

Visitors are welcome to photograph or videotape the titan arum for their own personal use.

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Leeann Lavin
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