Monday, June 27, 2011

Ted the Titan

Ted the Titan

The Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, a rare and strange plant at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory gained a great deal of notoriety this past week with its gigantic bloom and pungent odor.

Ted was at the end of its bloom so the lads took a ride over the Causeway to Davis to check it out before it died out.

Here's a little bit of background about this unusual plant:

The Titan Arum was first discovered by the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in 1878 on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. A speciman was shipped to the Royal Botanical Gardens in England, where the plant was displayed and bloomed for the first time in 1889.

It may take 15 years for the titan arum to become large enough to bloom, and it is especially rare to see it in cultivation. These floral giants have been coaxed into flower only about a 100 times around the world, including four times here at the UC Davis Conservatory.

Ted the Titan bloomed for the first time in 2003, and again in 2005 and 2007, and for the fourth time in 2011.

We missed the prime bloom by several days. The bloom lasts for a very short period and the large petals begins to retract and collapse after blooming. We still caught the flower in erect position but the petals were beginning to contract.

Mike taking a whiff

Ted is a stinker! One of the unusual attributes of the Titan Arum is its pungent odor, a scent of a dead animal to attract flies and carrion beetles for pollination. The odor emanates only during the bloom.

Ted in the glass conservatory with other rare and beautiful plants

Close-up of folds in the petals

Ted was cut open at the base exposing where several hundred tiny flowers grow. The flowers generate the smell of a corpse when the plant is in full bloom to attract pollinating insects.

The lads inspecting and sniffing the plant but could not detect much of an odor

A photo of Ted during full bloom which occurred a few days ago. The bloom only lasts several days.

Tabatha the Titan, the female titan arum is a very tall plant about 10' in height. It bloomed once in 2004.

Base of Tabatha

The lads strolling through the conservatory and checking out the other cool plants. The following pics show some of the other exotic plants on display.

Many beautiful orchids

Plethora of odd looking cacti

Dick, Dennis and Mike

The lads in front of a blooming agave outside the conservatory. End of a very interesting day.

1 comment:

Hats & Taps said...

Very nice pictures and interesting info Geno! That first one begged a caption of "Feed me!"