amorphophallus titanum in leiden


25-26.06.2009

You really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. 

Maybe this should be shouted out to Indonesians who were not aware that they lived in a country with one the richest diversity (either ecologically or sociologically) in the world. 

And they should see how botanists  in this part of the universe were head over feet when the indigenous plant was blooming in their countries. 

It was one of the first weeks of my acquaintance with Maarten, and he asked me whether I would like to go with him to see the blooming of Amorphophallus Titanum at Hortus Botanicus, the botanical garden of Leiden. 

I went there on 25 June, as Maarten said that the website suggested that the flower would bloom that day. However, when we reached there, the flower was still closing, and so we had a stroll around the garden instead. 

Hortus Botanicus was really nice as always, and it was a nice warm summer day that we even had a long nice chat on one of the benches in the garden before we finally left the hortus because it was about to close. We then moved to another park to sit in the sun eating ice creams.

the plant that looks like a yip yip from sesame street

buat ci ichay:
ixora chinensis

nepenthes

maarten and me

Oh and by the way, here the plant is familiarly known as the “penis plant”, due to its Latin name which contained the word “phallus” mean the thingy. For me it was completely bizarre because I was more accustomed to the name “carrion flower”, for its godawful rotting smell. Well, the name “carrion flower” itself can be really misleading, because the other flower Raflessia arnoldii is also known as the carrion flower. But anyway, carrion flower still sounds nicer (and more polite) compared to penis plant. 

The flower was the highlight of the garden that week, THE crown jewel. There was even a live cam broadcasting the flower via internet 24 hours a day, so that people could see whether the flower had already bloomed.

And I, drowned in my curiosity, finally followed the development of the flower. I sometimes opened the website to see whether the flower had already bloomed, even in the middle of the night. 

It was the day after that I found that the flower was blooming. I called Maarten straight away, and we went there to see the almost two-meters-tall flower. I had seen a carrion flower before, but never this huge. The one I saw in Bogor Botanical Garden about 19 years ago was only waist-high, so probably about a meter or something.

 it blooms!

And I forgot that the flower smelt that terrible. And I mean, REALLY terrible. 

Even I could smell it from outside the green house. 

The smell was like the smell of kitchen leftovers that had been left in the trash bin for a month. Everything started to rot, creating this horrible smell that depicted the flower’s name. 

Well, OK not as awful as the smell of a morgue at the Jakarta’s Central Hospital (RSCM), but still, it was horrible. 

Anyway, more photos of my encounter with the Indonesian pride in a foreign country can be found here

Thank you to Maarten for informing me about this “event”. 

Some other nice photos in Hortus Botanicus: 

bamboo

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