Titan Arum: with two meters high and weighing 75 kilos, also known as “Bunga Bangkai” or “corpse flower” due to the hideous and unpleasant odor the fly-pollinated inflorescence produces, made its apparition in Rio Blanco in the high mountains of the Estado de Veracruz, México, listing it as the largest flower of the world.

Its country of origin is Sumatra, Indonesia, and belongs to the family of Araceae. Besides its extraordinary size, as mentioned before, it has another characteristic which makes it unique: it emits a fetid odor of rotten flesh which makes it really hard to be near it for a long period of time. But although its fragrance is pretty unpleasant for most of us, it attracts a lot of insects whom involuntarily contribute with the plants pollination. The plant takes from 9 to 21 months for the stem to flower –to only last less than a week, as once it reaches full bloom the spadix collapses from its own weight and the spathe withers away, possibly never to bloom again. Its flowering is quite an event as it has the peculiarity of blooming only during three days every 40 years, but I can assure you that during these days, the Titan Arum does not go unnoticed, since the species is an herb that can reach heights of 7 to 12 feet and weigh as much as 170 pounds! And its leaf can reach 20 feet tall and 15 feet across! Not only it is the world’s largest flower, it is one of the most bizarre and improbable organisms on the planet.

Titan Arum is developed by the parasitic Euphorbiaceae, the Rafflesia Arnoldii, which is also found in the humid forests of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia, as well as in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was discovered in 1818 by Thomas Stamford Raffles & Joseph Arnold. The inflorescence may reach almost a meter of diameter and can weigh up to 11 kilograms, making them the biggest plant in the world. They are fleshy, red or orange colored flowers, with 5 lobes that remain open between 5 and 7 days. And as with many other humongous plants, this happens once in several years.

Flowers that emit a strong fetid scent, similar to rotten meat, are capable of emitting heat. It is believed that this mechanisms work for them in order to mimic the heat and the odor of a dead animal to draw the attention of flies, which are insects that pollinate it. The plant doesn’t have any leafs, buds nor roots; you can only see its flower, therefore it doesn’t make the photosynthesis process. It is a plant that is a parasite to trees by growing on its roots, in order to obtain the necessary nutrients. Its vegetative organs are reduced into a web of cellular fibers that in their majority are found between the tissues of the host plant or by forming a twisted and underground organ called rhizome.

Titan Arum: a privilege that Mother Nature bestowed on this town in Veracruz.