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A Bouquet Most Non-Fragrant

Botanic Garden in Ubud Successfully Blooms Rare and Most Foul Smelling Titans Flowers.


Bali News:
Click Image to Enlarge

(12/9/2006)



"What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


A story, perhaps more anecdotal than true, suggests that when Shakespeare wrote these lines in 1594 he was making a cynical aside about a competing theater to The Globe - the venue for his popular plays. That competing theater, The Rose, was notorious for its poor toilet facilities and the resulting stink - both off and on stage.

But, Do I Digress?

For some reason, a recent announcement from the Botanic Garden Ubud that they have successfully managed to cultivate the rare and foul-smelling Titan flower brought Shakespeare's lines to mind. The Titan, shown on balidiscovery.com, is called in Indonesian a bunga bangka or rotting corpse flower. Full marks to the Indonesians for truth in labeling for indeed this large, purple flower is a most odoriferous species of plant whose scent attracts carrion eating flies and beetles, lured to the the blossom by the smell resembling rotting flesh.

The flower and the insects share a symbiotic relationship; the insects play a pollinating role, hopping from stinking bloom to stinking bloom.

One of the world's largest unbranched flowers, the Titian can stand as high as 2.7 meters, although the current crop in Ubud is substantially smaller. Normally found only in the wilds of Sumatra, it was first discovered there in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari – posibly known to his friends as "Old Odore."

For reasons of rarity and smell, you're not likely to find this flower for sale any time soon at your neighborhood florist. The first cultivated Titan appeared in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, in 1889. Exceedingly difficult to cultivate, only an approximate 60 cultivated blossoms have been brought to bloom over the intervening century.

A small group of the rare flowering Titans, however, are now in evidence at The Botanic Garden Ubud - a very special garden located only 1.2 kilometers from downtown Ubud.

Lost? Then just follow your nose.

The blossoming of the Titan is mercifully short, lasting only a few days.

Why not bring a Durian and make a picnic day out of it?


More information: New Botanic Garden in Ubud

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