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Anne Perry <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
- JBS-L - Josselyn Botanical Society discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 6 Aug 2005 22:10:04 -0400
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For those with a taste for the exotic!
Anne Perry

------ Forwarded Message
From: "Madelaine Zadik" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 05 Aug 2005 15:58:15 -0400
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: "Michael Marcotrigiano" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Blooming Event!!!

Dear Friend of the Botanic Garden,

We don't often contact our Friends by email, but we thought you would be
interested in this exciting event taking place in the Lyman Conservatory.

The first flowering in Massachusetts of the rare and remarkable Titan Arum -
Amorphophallus titanum - is about to take place at the Botanic Garden of
Smith College. Native to the lowland rainforests of the island of Sumatra in
Indonesia, this endangered species has only rarely flowered in cultivation
in the U.S. One of the largest blooms in the plant kingdom, it is also one
of the most malodorous. We predict a miasma of stench will perfume the Palm
House around August 13-15, 2005, but check first before making the

Our Titan Arum is located in Palm House near the doorway leading out to the
rock garden. For this special flowering event evening hours and special
parking regulations are being planned. Check our web site for the latest
update on when our stinky giant will be in full power - www.smith.edu/garden

If you are nearby, we hope you will come see this exotic creature. Bring
your own gasmask and enjoy! If not, check out the web site -- we're in the
process of setting up a camera on it, so you'll be able to watch the
flower's progress from afar.

For many years the plant produces only a single, highly dissected leaf, up
to 12 feet high. During this stage the plant is building up a large
underground storage organ called a corm that can eventually weigh up to 150
pounds, requiring two people to lift and move it. Once it reaches a critical
size, it may send up a flower. Our corm is only about 40 lbs and we did not
expect it to bloom yet, since other corms have not bloomed until much

These are probably the most spectacular flowers on earth. The inflorescence
(flowering stalk) of this species is one of the largest. The size of the
corm determines the size of the flower - 100 pound corms have been known to
produce flower stalks up to 9 feet tall. From a pleated skirt of scarlet
rises a towering yellow spadix (the spike that holds all the individual
flowers). The bloom is short lived and we are not quite sure exactly when
ours will open. Contributing to this flower's enigmatic and exotic allure is
the fact that it is one of the worst smelling flowers on earth. The
overpowering aroma of rotten flesh attracts carrion beetles, who serve as
its pollinators.

Our plant was raised from seed collected 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. Many recent flowerings of Amorphophallus in captivity trace
back to Dr. Symon. In March of 1995 some of this seed was donated to the
conservatories at the University of Connecticut. Clinton Morse, the manager
of these conservatories, was successful in germinating and growing this
precious seed and in 2002 he donated a corm to the Smith Botanic Garden,
joining two others we had acquired. Our corm grew rapidly and by this spring
weighed in at 40 pounds when it was repotted into a large planter box. While
a corm of this weight won't produce a nine foot flower it will be a
spectacular blossom nonetheless.

Please feel free to pass along this email to anyone else you think might be

Madelaine Zadik
Manager of Education and Outreach
The Botanic Garden of Smith College
Lyman Plant House, 15 College Lane
Northampton, MA  01063   USA
Phone: 413-585-2743,  Fax: 413-585-2744

------ End of Forwarded Message