Giant Flower Makes Big Stink—For a Limited Time

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Life in the Wild

No one knows how common the titan arum is in the wild; many suspect it is endangered. Its only known habitat is the rain forests of Sumatra, which are being steadily eroded by deforestation and human encroachment. The tubers are also being dug up for food and for collectors.

Seeds collected during an expedition in 1993 were distributed to growers around the country, and more botanical gardens and university greenhouses are growing it, making blooming events more common.

The corpse flower is not difficult to cultivate, says Beeman. They can easily become stunted and need a lot of root room, "but once you've figured that out it's not rocket science anymore," he said. The plant's sheer size though can be a limiting factor in greenhouses with restricted space.

The plant at the Quail Botanical Garden was grown from seed by Jim Booman, a local grower.

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