24 June 2023, by Victoria Séveno
This week, the zoo in Rotterdam played host to a very special guest – and it wasn’t an animal. For the first time in 60 years, the titan arum – otherwise known as the giant penis plant – bloomed at the Victoria Greenhouse at Blijdorp Zoo.
Titan arum famous for height, stench, and phallic appearance
Native to the rainforests and hills of western Sumatra in Indonesia, the titan arum is officially the largest flower in the world, typically weighing around 50 kilograms with flowers reaching over three metres in height.
The plant regularly makes headlines around the world for a number of reasons; not only is the species threatened by deforestation, but its unfortunate odour (compared to that of a rotting corpse) and phallic appearance (the titan arum’s Latin name is Amorphophallus titanum, or “misshapen titan penis”, honestly) mean it’s become a bit of a cult favourite.
Add to that the fact that the titan arum blooms for just two to three days every five to 10 years, and it’s unsurprising that many are so excited to hear that this week one graced the halls of Blijdorp!
World’s largest flower in bloom at Blijdorp
This particular titan arum was acquired by the botanical team at Blijdorp around eight years ago, and this week marked its first bloom since becoming a part of the zoo’s collection in 2015. It also marks the first time that Blijdorp has hosted a blooming titan arum since way back in 1963.
At 10.30am on Monday, June 19, the zoo announced via a live blog on its website that the flower was officially in bloom.
It’s not the first time this year that the titan arum has made headlines: this spring, one was in bloom at Hortus Botanicus in Leiden and last month, one bloomed at the Botanical Gardens in Zurich, Switzerland.
Thumb: Robert Buchel via Shutterstock.com.