Amorphophallus titanum (Titan Arum)

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Scientific Name

Amorphophallus titanum (Becc.) Becc.

Common Names

Titan Arum, Voodoo Lily, Voodoo Plant, Corpse Flower, Giant Krubi

Synonyms

Amorphophallus selebicus, Conophallus titanum

Scientific Classification

Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Thomsonieae
Genus: Amorphophallus

Flower

Color: Dark burgundy red
Bloom Time: Mid summer

Description

Amorphophallus titanum is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The inflorescence can reach over 10 feet (3 m) in height. It consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like a large petal. The spathe is a deep green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, with a deeply furrowed texture. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. Near the bottom of the spadix, hidden from view inside the sheath of the spathe, the spadix bears 2 rings of small flowers. The upper ring bears the male flowers, the lower ring is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. Both male and female flowers grow in the same inflorescence. The female flowers open first, then a day or two following, the male flowers open. This usually prevents the flower from self-pollinating. After the flower dies back, a single leaf grows from the underground corm. The leaf grows on a somewhat green stalk that branches into 3 sections at the top, each containing many leaflets. The leaf structure can reach up to 20 feet (6.6 m) tall and and up to 16 feet (4.8 m) across. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place.

Hardiness

It is grown as an annual plant, so it has no USDA hardiness zone.

How to Grow and Care

Many have said Titan Arum is one of the most difficult plants to grow in cultivation. However, it is not any more difficult than any other flowering plant. The difficulty comes in the consistent growing conditions for a period of 7 years or more. You must mimic its native environment of tropical Sumatra. For instance, every year, once the plant dies back the corm must be moved into a larger pot. If the corm is nicked or damaged, it can allow disease organisms to kill the plant.

Titan Arum is not forgiving.  Humidity has to be 80 percent, the ambient air temperature needs to be above 60°F (15°C), and preferably above 75°F (24°C). It won’t hurt the plant if the temperature dips into the 60s for a few days in a row but it shouldn’t be in the 60s for months at a time. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and use sterile soil when transplanting.

Origin

It is native solely to western Sumatra, and western Java where it grows in openings in rainforests on limestone hills.

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