Friday morning I noticed an article in the paper about a flower. Not just any flower, mind you. This flower is substantial: Amorphophallus titanum – the largest flower in the world and particularly stinky. The best part? This plant was at the nearby Auckland Domain and there were signs the flower might open this weekend!
Flat Stanley was excited. These flowers are extremely rare and last only two days. Flat Stanley was keen to see and smell such a huge flower. Yesterday Auckland Council made a public notice the flower started to open and visiting hours at Wintergarden would be extended for the viewing public.
Early this morning at 6:00 AM, I grabbed Flat Stanley and we headed out the door. As it was Sunday morning and quite early to boot, I knew there would be very few other people about. The gates of Wintergarden opened at 6:30 AM.
We drove through Auckland Domain to Wintergarden and found a place to park, then walked to the glasshouse.
I waited with Flat Stanley at the locked gate until 6:30 AM. Right on queue, the gate was unlocked and we walked towards the Tropical House, a heat and humidity controlled glasshouse.
As soon as the door to the glasshouse opened, we could smell it: rather like a bit of meat left under the couch for a week. Another name for this flower is the corpse flower, an apt name, I must say.
A fascinating plant. It has a huge bulb or corm of 50kg or more, and each year the plant produces a single leaf of gigantic proportions.
The leaf dies back after a bit and nothing seems to happen for another year, when yet another singularly huge leaf grows. This may continue for 7-10 years.
After several years, the plant may send up a flower. It was only about two weeks ago that workers noticed a flower began to emerge. It is difficult to predict when or if these plants will ever bloom, so when they do, it is quite exciting!
To say Flat Stanley was excited was an understatement. This was certainly the largest flower he had ever seen. Thankfully, the smell was not too bad, either.
Outside was cool and there were a few raindrops. Inside was hot and humid, to replicate the tropical environment of Sumatra in Indonesia, where this plant is found in the wild. Flat Stanley did not mind the heat and humidity.