One of the titan arums at the Botanic Garden Meise is expected to bloom soon, the garden announced in a press release published on Monday. The flowering of this rare plant from the tropical rain forests of Sumatra is due in about a week. The blooming of the titan arum is an exceptional phenomenon that always attracts the public, and this would be the eighth such flowering in Meise.
The plant in question had already bloomed in 2016, when it reached a height of 145 cm, a “small-sized” flowering that it is expected to duplicate within a week. “The inflorescence weighs about 10kg. Last week it grew faster due to the sun lighting up the greenhouse of the arboretum. In four days, it grew by 30 cm and reached 133 cm,” the garden disclosed.
The titan arum is the world’s largest plant. It flowers for only about 72 hours (3 days), giving off a nauseating odour of rotting fish. In its natural habitat, this is how it attracts the insects that pollinate it.
In April last, two titan arums flowered on the same day in Meise, enabling the garden to attempt to pollinate the species for the first time.
“The male, presumably immature, flowers of the largest inflorescence were collected. Our colleagues from the University of Ghent (UGent) Botanical Garden also gave us mature pollen, collected in 2015 and conserved since then at -80°C.,” the Botanic Garden Meise explained. “In the twelve hours after flowering, one side of the inflorescence was pollinated with the mature pollen from UGent, while the other side was pollinated with the immature pollen from the botanic garden.”
This double-pollination experiment enabled the garden to reap dozens of berries, which have since yielded more than 50 new titan arums. These will be redistributed to other botanical gardens worldwide.