Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The world’s largest flower, Amorphophallus titanum, in Kuala Lumpur

The world’s largest flower is Amorphophallus titanum, a rare species, native to Sumatra. The flowers may exceed 3 m in height and 1m diameter.  

Photo shows two young plants in December 2019, each with two leaves; the upper leaf twice as tall as the lower leaf

I managed to obtain two seedlings and had them planted in the Secret Garden on the Rooftop of the 1 Utama Shopping Mall.

The plants are reported to produce one leaf a year, each leaf bigger than the previous one. The final leaf is the largest, with a stalk that looks like a stout tree trunk, reaching 6 m (20 ft) tall and carrying a single massive leaf that is spread out to 5 m (20 ft) across,and  divided into many leaflets, to mimic a tree crown. This incredible 'one-leaf tree' eventually dies down and disappears. After a few months,  an enormous flower will appear out of the ground. It is said to take 7 to 10 years for a plant to get big enough to flower. This description is  based on plants grown in greenhouses under artificial conditions in UK or US. They may behave differently under open tropical conditions.  

I got my plants when they were barely 15 cm (6 inches) tall, in July 2019 and planted then under full sun. Each plant came with one leaf. The next leaf appeared in October and the third in December: three leaf cycles in 6 months. Already it is clear that they produce more than one leaf a year. I expect them to flower much earlier than 10 years. Maybe two years?

The Secret Garden is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. Those who are interested can now observe these plants at close quarters. 

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