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University readies for rare bloom

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A giant flower, taller than a man, is expected to open on Thursday at the botanical garden at Basel University.

This content was published on April 20, 2011 - 17:12
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The only previous time a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) produced a flower in Switzerland was 75 years ago.

It has taken the garden’s 20kg corm 17 years to reach the blossoming stage, but the two-metre tall flower will die back after only a few days. Its mother plant last bloomed in the Frankfurt Palm Garden in 1992.

The titan arum’s distinctive smell, reminiscent of carrion or fish, but appreciated by certain insects, has given it the colloquial name of “corpse flower”. 

Native to Sumatra’s tropical rain forest, it requires a humid climate to grow and even in the wild blossoms very infrequently.

Huge though Basel’s flower is, the tallest specimen ever recorded was about  three metres high.

A webcam has been set up and the university garden is expecting a rush of visitors.

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