Titan arum
 
 
The species has flowered three times in Sweden—the first time being in 1935 in the Bergius Botanic Garden. The spectacular plant is distinguished by its large size, odd shape and the terrible stench. Once in bloom, the flower lasts only for two or three days.
 
Giant from Sumatra 
The Titan Arum comes from the rainforest on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where it grows in an area slightly larger than Småland in Sweden. The species was discovered in 1878 by an Italian botanist and who named the plant Amorphophallus titanium, which means “huge shapeless phallus”. A Titan Arum bloomed for the first time outside of Sumatra in London in 1890. It has since then become a favourite with botanical gardens, frequently drawing a response of horrified delight among spectators.
 
The inflorescence emits a repulsive odour of carrion, rotting fish and burnt sugar. The stench and the fleshy-red spathe fool carrion beetles into trying to lay eggs in the inflorescence. The beetles are then held captive for two days before being released again. During the first day only the plant's female flowers are open, while the male flowers release their pollen during the second day. Dusted with pollen, the carrion beetles then fly away; ready to be fooled by the next titan arum.
 
The Titan Arum also forms a huge underground corm, up to 160 kg in weight. From the corm comes a single gigantic leaf, the size of a small tree. Once the leaf has wilted the corm becomes dormant for a few months. When it wakes up again, hopefully a flower bud has formed. The inflorescence shoots up extremely quickly and can grow between 5-15cm per day. When it has reached between 1.5-2.5m in height, a spathe opens out like a purple, velvet-pleated skirt.
 
Bergius Botanical Garden
The Bergius Botanical Garden is located in Frescati in northern Stockholm. The Bergius Botanic Garden operates under the auspices of Stockholm University and the Royal Academy of Sciences. www.bergianska.se/english