Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Titan Arum Plant Drew Crowds In Beijing
The titan arum at the Beijing Botanical Garden (BBG) drew hundreds of enthusiasts to the western edge of Beijing recently The occasion was the was the first to blooming of the titan arum in China. .
The titan arum at the Beijing Botanical Garden (BBG) drew hundreds of enthusiasts to the western edge of Beijing recently The occasion was the was the first to blooming of the titan arum in China.
Stephen Blackmore, Queen's Botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, said that theTitan arum "is one of the very few 'charismatic megaplants' that can rival the charismatic megafauna that command so much attention in relation to conservation and public awareness. For me, it is the botanic garden equivalent of the giant panda".
The titan arum, or the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum), has the tallest unbranched inflorescence on the planet. Before opening, the flowerlike spathe resembles a gigantic cabbage pierced by a stalklike spadix that can top 3 meters. The titan arum at Beijing Botanical Garden (BBG) wasn't quite so tall—2.16 meters, to be precise—but it was the first to bloom in China,
Italian naturalist Odoardo Beccari discovered the gargantuan flower in the Barisan Mountains of western Sumatra in 1878 and sent seeds to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where it took 11 years for some of the world's most skilled green thumbs to coax the plant to flower. In addition to being famously hard to cultivate, titan arum is notoriously noxious: When the spathe opens, revealing a burgundy-red inner surface, the tiny female flowers nestled inside exude an odor like that of a rotting corpse. That attracts its pollinators: carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies. The ghastly smell disturbed two BBG staffers who had survived the horrific Tangshan earthquake in 1976; it reminded them of the stench of corpses in the rubble. "They couldn't stand to be near the plant," says Guo Ling, a horticultural professor at BBG.
In one respect, the corpse flower truly is the living dead. Cultivated individuals almost without fail begin dying hours after the spathe unfurls. The titan arum here in BBG's conservatory is no exception. Around 10 p.m. on 29 May, its spadix collapsed. That devastated Niu, a BBG horticultural specialist, who had raised the titan arum from when it was a mere tuber. "She cried all night" after the spadix crumpled, Guo says. "It was like it was her baby."
For further information and video of the flower see the website:- http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/video/2011-05/20/content_12542903.htm