Giant ‘Corpse flower’ at Botanics has now drooped

The giant Amorphophallus Titanum, pictured here in full bloom, has now drooped. Picture: Neil Hanna

The giant Amorphophallus Titanum, pictured here in full bloom, has now drooped. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A GIANT exotic flower - which smells like rotten flesh and attracted thousands of visitors - has now drooped.

Amorphophallus titanum, which literally translates as “giant mis-shapen penis”, grew to 2.8metres tall before it burst in to bloom on Saturday morning.

The amazing spectacle pulled more than 15,000 paying visitors, before it finally drooped and bend over double at 9am today.

The plant - AKA the corpse flower as it emits a smell of rotting flesh when in bloom -- was cultivated for 12 years before finally producing its first flower. Experts predict it could bloom again in around four years time.

Dr Max Coleman, RBGE’s science communicator, said: “Amorphophallus titanum can sometimes flower for only one or two days so ours did brilliantly to stand fully upright for four days before it flopped just after 9am.

“It took 12 years of careful cultivation but it was well worth it. It’s been enormous for the garden. People have come who hadn’t been for many years or ever, and become members.

“It’s been our botanical panda in terms of the draw for visitors.

“Hopefully we could see another flower in a few years time.”

RBGE scientists today/yesterday [WED] took samples from the plant to study more closely, while pollen has been taken for other collections. The plant itself will now be left to decay.

Amorphophallus titanum is native only to the Bukit Barisan range of mountains in West Sumatra, where it is now classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.

During its short flowering period it uses its “dead-meat” stench to attract pollinating insects such as carrion beetles and flies, which are drawn to the smell.

The smell itself is caused by a mix of gases emitted by the heating up of parts of the central flower spike at night.

In future, the RBGE could open the tropical glasshouse overnight if the plant looks likely to bloom again, to allow people to get the full impact of the smell on its first night.

Dr Coleman added: “It would be great to get people to experience the stench at it’s most potent.”