Mature tubers of A. titanum typically weigh between 25 and 50 kg, with weights up to 75 kg recorded. Tubers produce solitary, highly dissected leaves over 3 m high and 4 m across. Leaves persist for ca. 1-2 years. The plant enters a dormant phase of several months after a leaf senesces, before sending up a replacement leaf and growing a new root system. Leaves are hysteranthous: flowers are borne by otherwise dormant plants. The timing of dormancy and growth phases seems to be more or less random with respect to the seasons; wild populations are reported to have plants in various stages of growth at any given time. It is unclear why the plants ever go dormant at all, given their equatorial habitat.
Flower buds emerge shortly after tubers become dormant, and are accompanied by the development of a limited root system, unlike the flowers of temperate Amorphophallus species. Inflorescences consist of a fluted spathe (petal-like leaf) with a meat-like purple interior, and a sickly-yellow spadix (central stem bearing many small male and female flowers). While technically not single flowers, the inflorescences of A. titanum are the largest flower-like structures in the plant kingdom, often reaching 2 m high and 1 m in diameter, or larger. While open, the spadix warms itself with metabolic heat, in what is perhaps an adaptation to volatilize and disperse its carrion-insect-attracting odor. The putrid smell of the corpse flower is strongest just after the spathe unfurls, late at night, suggesting pollination by nocturnal flies and beetles.
The following YouTube video features our 2011 bloom and was produced for us by UConn Today:
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