Environment, Lighter, News, Science

World’s Largest (And Stinkiest) Plant About To Bloom Near Niagara Falls

Amorphophallus-Apr282012 worlds tallest flower
The world's tallest flower is about to bloom in Niagara Falls, Ont. Image courtesy of The Niagara Parks Commission.

It’s stinky and it’s huge—and it’s about to bloom.

The world’s tallest flower is set to bloom this week.

Its scientific name is The Amorphophallus titanium (Titan Arum for short).

The extremely rare flower is at the Niagara Parks’ Floral Showhouse, near the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in Ontario. When it blooms, it will be the 22nd of its kind to bloom in a botanical garden.

Titan Arum is also known as the corpse flower. That’s because of the stinky odour it gives off. It smells like rotting meat.

Its horrible smell helps the flower attract insects that it needs for pollination. (Lots of insects are attracted to rotting meat.)

Titan arum normally grows in the rainforests of Sumatra.

However, this one—and another one that is also growing and will bloom after the first one—was donated by a man who lives in New Hampshire, U.S.

He donated two “corms,” the bulb-like structures that were planted and eventually grew into the plant it has become today. Each corm weighed 150 kilograms.

Staff planting the corm
Staff planting the corm on January 6, 2012. Image courtesy of The Niagara Parks Commission.

The plants have been growing about three inches a day. The people looking after the plants, called botanists, know that when the plant’s growth slows down to about one inch a day, it is getting ready to bloom. And that’s what has been happening lately.

As of April 29, the plant was measured at 88.5 inches.

They expect to see the full flower today or tomorrow, although it’s hard to predict with 100 per cent accuracy. The smelly bloom is expected to last only about four days.

There have been other Titan Arums that have bloomed in greenhouses, and they attract more than just pollinating insects. The Titan also attracts plant lovers and botanists, some of whom travel around the world when they hear of one that is about to bloom.

Image of a mature plant
Image of mature plant. Image courtesy of Louis M. Ricciardiello and The Niagara Parks Commission

They want to be there for the rare event that relatively few people ever get to experience.

The flower will be at its stinkiest in the first 12 hours after it blooms.

Related links
Website for the Niagara Parks.
Blog for the Titan Arum

The botanical gardens in Niagara
The botanical gardens in Niagara. Image courtesy of The Niagara Parks Commission


By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article explains, “The Titan also attracts plant lovers and botanists, some of whom travel around the world when they hear of one that is about to bloom.” How could you explain why people would travel across the world to see this plant?

Why do you think people are so interested in things that are out of the ordinary? For instance, why do you think people love reading information in the Guiness Book of World Records?

Reading Prompt: Text Features
Several photographs are included in this article. How do they help you to understand the text? Are there any photographs that you wished were included? What are they and why would they be helpful?

Primary and Junior
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Grammar Feature: Comparative and superlative adjectives
Adjectives (describing words) come in different forms when they are used to compare two nouns. Many comparative adjectives use the ending –er. Many superlative adjectives use the ending –est. For example, the adjective “stinkiest” is a superlative adjective.

Fill in the chart below with the correct comparative and superlative adjectives.

 Adjective  Comparative Adjective  Superlative Adjective