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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Smelly flower is 'world's tallest'
Titan Arum
The native Indonesian plant is nicknamed "corpse flower"
More than 2,000 people have flocked to Germany's University of Bonn to witness what its botanists say is the world's largest flower.

The Titan Arum is almost three metres tall - beating by seven centimetres the previous record set 71 years ago.

The rare bloom has the nickname "corpse flower" because its colossal lily-shaped purple buds smell of rotting flesh.

But those who crowded into the university's botanical garden for a look at the flower have witnessed history in the making - for the huge blooms only last a couple of days before collapsing.

The plant - properly known as Armorphophallus titanium - comes from the rainforests of western Sumatra in Indonesia and was discovered in 1878.

Titan Arums have been cultivated in hot houses ever since but rarely flower - although when they do they give off a smell of a carcass in decay.

"It stinks so as to attract the insect life it needs to reproduce," university spokeswoman Elke Bruessel told Reuters news agency.

Bloom again

Bonn University said the plant - which is 15 years old and sprouted from a bulb weighing some 78 kilograms - reached a final height of 2.74 metres (nine feet).

Previously, the Netherland's Botanic Garden of Wageningen held the world record after producing a flower of 2.67 metres in 1932.

This is the second time the Bonn plant has flowered and there has, as yet, been no record of a third flowering of the plant species, which has a lifespan of up to 40 years.

Ms Bruessel said she hoped Bonn's botanical garden might break that record, too. "We hope it will flower a third time," she said.

About 70 of the plants are known to be being cultivated worldwide, including at London's Kew Gardens.




SEE ALSO:
The stink is upon California
07 Aug 02  |  Science/Nature
New Kew bloom causes a stink
02 May 02  |  UK News


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