the Botanic Garden: Rare Flowering of the Unusual and Remarkable
The odiferous Titan Arum, blooming soon in the Botanic
One of the great jewels of the
plant kingdom, the Titan Arum, or Amorphophallus
is about to flower for the third time in the Lyman Conservatory
at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. Our Titan first bloomed
in 2005, and then again in 2008, and remains the only Titan Arum ever to bloom
The Titan Arum, known colloquially
as the “corpse flower,” is
native to the lowland rainforests on the island of Sumatra
in Indonesia, and boasts flower stalks up to 9 feet high.
The plants produce a large, single dissected leaf. Over years,
the underground storage organ, known as a corm, grows larger.
Once the corm reaches a critical size, the plant may send
up a flower usually every three to five years, but it is
unpredictable. When our corm was weighed in mid-August it
was 54 pounds. The flowering stalk of the Titan Arum is a
spectacular sight; from a pleated skirt of scarlet rises
a towering yellow spadix (the spike that holds all the small
individual flowers). Its aroma is even more infamous, which
is the origin of its name, the corpse flower. The flower
emits the overpowering scent of rotten flesh, used to lure
the insects that pollinate it.
Our plant was raised from
seed brought to the United States by the late Dr. James Symon,
a physician who became one of the world experts on Amorphophallus.
He collected seed in an abandoned rubber plantation in the
town of Aeksah, in Sumatra, and this seed was distributed
to universities and botanical institutions, including the
University of Connecticut, which, in 2002, donated a successfully
germinated corm to the Botanic Gardens at Smith College.
The rare bloom is short lived
and we expect blooming to occur very soon in the coming week,
but it is difficult to predict exactly when it will be in
Our Titan Arum is located in
the Palm House, near the doorway leading out to the rock
garden. The Lyman Conservatory on College Lane in Northampton
is open to the public daily, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is
and our Facebook page for the latest photos
and information on this ticking stink bomb to make sure
you arrive in time.