The supersized Titan arum is an absolute showstopper of the horticultural world. Taking many years to flower, botanists wait with baited breath for this unpredictable giant to bloom in brief but breathtaking glory.
This rare species grows in Sumatran rainforests, but its spectacular size has made it a favourite at botanical gardens. Its single flowerhead consists of a spadix (flower-bearing spike) surrounded by a leaf-like spathe. Flowering occurs only occasionally and lasts just days, accompanied by the rancid smell of rotting meat. When the flower dies, a single leaf the size of a small tree takes its place. This builds up food stores so the plant will eventually flower again.
Poison in Paradise
While Titan arum is smelly but harmless, Daphne mezereum is the opposite. Nicknamed the paradise plant, this species produces fragrant flowers, hiding the fact that it is deadly poisonous. Swallowing any part of this plant would lead to sudden sickness or even death.