A rare flower that has bloomed after a gap of almost 20 years has attracted thousands of visitors to the botanical garden in Tokyo.
Standing at more than 5ft (1.52m) tall, the Amorphophallus titanum is native to Indonesia’s Sumatra island.
At full bloom the plant emits a pungent smell which one visitor described as “like raw garbage that had grown rotten”. It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is still indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra. Due to its odor, which is seriously reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing animal, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the “Corpse flower”, or “Corpse plant” (Indonesian: bunga bangkai – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the rainforests of Sumatra).
The popular name titan arum was invented by the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, for his BBC TV series The Private Life of Plants, in which the flowering and pollination of the plant were filmed for the first time. Attenborough felt that constantly referring to the plant as Amorphophallus on a popular TV documentary would be inappropriate. =)