"Corpse flower" a spectacle

Friday 6 January 2012

"Corpse flower" a spectacle

A spectacular sight is about to unfurl at Cairns Botanic Gardens, as a rare rainforest giant prepares to bloom.

The Amorphophallus titanum known as the titan arum has the largest single, unbranched flower cluster in the world.

“When in full bloom, the inflorescence has been known to reach three metres in height,” Botanic Gardens Curator David Warmington said.

“A massive spathe unwraps to display a deep crimson colour and reveal a giant flower-bearing spadix. While the fragrance it emits is not the most pleasant, the inflorescence is truly a wondrous sight.”

The scent has been likened to that of rotting meat, earning the plant the nickname “corpse flower”. But the unpleasant odour serves an important purpose as it attracts carrion-eating beetles and flies that pollinate the plant.

Two other titan arums bloomed in the Botanic Gardens in January 2011.

“People came from everywhere to see them,” Mr Warmington said. “For people interested in rare flora, this is a significant event.”

While it is difficult to pinpoint precisely when it will occur the inflorescence could be fully open this weekend.

This particular plant has been part of the Botanic Gardens’ collection for about seven years and this is the first time it has bloomed.

It is displayed in the Munro Martin Fernery, within the Botanic Gardens. However you'll need to be quick as these plants only remain in full bloom for about 24 hours.

The gardens are located on Collins Avenue, Edge Hill, and are open daily from 7.30am to 5.30pm. 

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