The Titan Arum flower bud at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.
The Largest Flower in the World
by Annette Bartlett-Golden
When I was at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to see one of the largest flowers in the world: the amorphophallus titanium. The enormous flower bud was on display in the Conservatory and was then 6 feet 2 inches high! A week later, during its peak bloom time, it measured an incredible 7 feet 4 inches!! Also known as Titan Arum and the Corpse Flower because of its odiferous bloom, this spectacular plant hails from the island jungles of Sumatra in the Pacific. There it grows even taller.
The peculiar growth habit of the plant can spans decades. Every year the Titan Arum throws up a single leaf resembling a palm tree which grows to about 10 to 15 feet high before dying back. This process creates energy which is stored in the plant’s corm, similar to a bulb. When the plant finally has enough energy in its corm, it will produce a single flower ranging in color from red to purple and lasting only a day or two after fully opening. During the bloom time, a stinky scent emanates from the blossom.
Placard at the United States Botanic Garden near the Titan Arum flower bud.
Because it took six years for the Titan Arum at the United States Botanic Garden to bloom, it was a much celebrated occasion. The museum extended visiting hours late into the evening to allow more people to see the extraordinary display. I’m grateful for the late hours because I was one of those evening visitors and viewing the enormous flower was a memorable moment!
Annette Bartlett-Golden paints a wide range of subjects from landscapes to animals and makes abstract works with paper. Using vibrant colors, she imparts a sense of immediacy, vivacity and optimism to her paintings and paper collages.
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