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Amorphophallus titanum - The Bloom


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Curtis' Botanical Magazine

Which part is the flower?

Commonly referred to as the world’s largest “flower,” the Titan Arum is really a cluster of flowers called an inflorescence. Hundreds of tiny flowers are hidden at the base of the spadix. These flowers are where pollination occurs and where fruit and seeds develop. The plants in nature do not fertilize themselves; the female flowers open first and are only receptive for a short time, after which the male flowers open. This ensures cross-pollination and prevents inbreeding.

Curtis' Botanical Magazine

Where are the leaves?

When the Titan Arum blooms, it comes straight out of the soil from an underground corm, looking like a giant flower without any foliage. But the plant does produce a single, giant leaf when it isn’t in bloom. You might not recognize it as a leaf, however: a mature plant will produce a leaf about 12 feet tall, consisting of a smooth stem topped with a fringe of leaflets. The entire “leaf” resembles a slender, green palm tree. Several of them are on display in The Huntington’s Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. The leaf can last longer than a year before it dies away.

 

Curtis' Botanical MagazineCurtis' Botanical Magazine Images

The images on this page are from Curtis' Botanical Magazine, the longest-running illustrated botanical and horticultural periodical. The first issue of this stunning series of plant portraits was published in February 1787 and is still published today. Its sumptuous illustrations were hand-colored until 1948, an exceptional history. Complete sets are quite scarce and The Huntington is fortunate to have not just one, but two sets of this magnificent publication, now numbering 200 volumes. Amorphophallus titanum was figured in volume 117, January 1891, two years after it bloomed for the first time in cultivation at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The illustrations show the opened inflorescence, the leaf details, the inflorescence still in the bud stage, the small clusters of flowers, and the ovary, seeds, and stamens.

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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