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The Sumatran titan arum, better known as the corpse flower or "giant penis plant", is in bloom in the monumental Victoria Greenhouse in Blijdorp. This plant has been cared for behind the scenes as a tuber by the botanical department for years. The bloom is unique because it doesn't happen often! A single plant might bloom only once in 5 to 10 years. This species, the Amorphophallus titanum, last bloomed in Blijdorp in 1963! The plant was absent from the collection for a while and only returned about eight years ago.


The flower bud fully develops in two weeks, after which the bract opens after three days. With its tall spadix and beautifully red bract, it emits a strong carrion smell. This attracts various insects that play a role as pollinators.

Male and female flowers are separated and bloom on different days to prevent self-pollination. The female flowers bloom first, followed by the male flowers a few days later.


The flowering structure collapses after 2 to 3 days. So if you want to capture the moment with a photo, you need to be quick. After successful pollination, dozens of fruits develop, each containing 1 to 2 seeds. This cluster matures over the next 6 to 12 months.

The titan arum can often be admired in its leaf stage in the Victoria Greenhouse. Blijdorp has several specimens of different ages in its collection.


In the wild, the plant is found on the western slopes of the mountains in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Titan arums are threatened by trade and the destruction of the rainforest for oil palm plantations.