World’s largest flower blooms after 15 year wait

By Halligan Agade -December 28, 2022

by Travers Andrews

Photo taken on July 19, 2022 shows a blooming Titan Arum Lily/corpse flower. /Xinhua

One of the world’s largest flowers, the rare Titan Arum Lily, also known as the corpse flower because it mimics the smell of rotting flesh, takes up to 10 years or longer to bloom. Botanists at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, say one of their Titans is finally unfurling its flowers.

The entire blooming process takes just 48 hours in total and then the flower goes dormant. For horticulturists, it has been years in the making.

“We’ve been waiting 15 years for this and in the last two years we’ve actually reported it, so giving it a bit of extra nutrients that it needed and beautifully it ended up flowering this year and we’re very excited,” said Joelene Adri King, Botanical Science Intern, Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens.

The plant is originally from Indonesia and King says there are around 1,000 individuals left. There are only 2 Titan Arum Lilies in Southern Africa.

Titan Arum Lilies are large plants that can grow larger than 1.5 meters and weigh over 70 kilograms. Their purple and yellow colors are also striking.

The 48-hour blooming is part of a pollination process where a male and female plant each take 24 hours to bloom. This in the wild is a rare phenomenon.

“There’s such a tiny time frame where two flowers have to be producing. One has to produce female flowers and one to be producing male flowers for that to happen. Because this is so rare in the wild, it’s very, very unlikely that any successful pollination happens,” Tristan Kruger, Horticultural Intern, Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens said.

For now, the two Titan Arum Lilies situated in Southern Africa have both officially bloomed and will go into a complete phase of dormancy.

The flowering of the Titan Arum Lily marks more than a decade of patience for horticulturists at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens. It is also one of the most significant events in the floral kingdom.

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