The Titan Arum, also known as the Corpse Plant, has the largest unbranched inflorescence (flower structure) of any plant. It can grow 12 ft tall and its tuber (storage root) can weigh up to 200 lbs. (Image: University of Wisconsin.)
Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum, “Corpse Plant,” “Corpse
Flower”) is native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, where it can be found on slopes and hillsides along the edges of forests. In cultivation, it generally takes 7-10 years to bloom, and may die or flower only rarely thereafter. For example, one specimen at Kew Botanic Garden in England flowered in 1889 and didn’t flower again until 1926!
What looks like an individual flower is actually a group of flowers called an inflorescence. The upside-down bell-shaped structure is a modified leaf (spathe) that is green on the outside, but deep red-purple on the inside. The column-like structure (spadix) in the middle of the plant is mostly sterile tissue that is used to diffuse a strong scent throughout the plant’s surroundings to attract pollinating insects. The actual flowers are very small and located at the base of the spadix, hidden by the spathe.
There are about 450 female flowers in a ring at the base of the spadix, and 500-1,000 male flowers above them.