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Stinking giant a hit in Basel

A titan arum is an impressive sight. Keystone

The rare blooming of a giant flower, taller than a man, that stinks of carrion, has been drawing thousands of visitors to Basel University’s botanical garden.

This content was published on April 23, 2011 - 13:43
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The only previous time a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) produced a flower in Switzerland was 75 years ago. World-wide, there have only been 134 recorded instances of cultivated plants blooming.

The nearly two-metre tall flower opened on Friday evening. The flower started to poke out of the soil in March, and in the past few days it had been growing at the rate of about six centimetres a day. But before then it had taken 17 years for the corm to grow to 20kg and to reach the blossoming stage. It will start wilting on Saturday evening or Sunday. Its mother plant last bloomed in the Frankfurt Palm Garden in 1992.

The gardens expect some 10,000 people to come to see it and are remaining open for at least 24 hours while the flower lasts. The event is also being filmed on webcam. On Friday, the webcam site was viewed more than 100,000 times.  

The titan arum’s distinctive smell, appreciated by the insects that pollinate it, has given it the colloquial name of “corpse flower”.  

Native to Sumatra’s tropical rain forest, it requires a humid climate to grow and even in the wild blossoms very infrequently.

  

Huge though Basel’s flower is, the tallest specimen ever recorded was about three metres high.

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