Tamara Sheward

TropicNow writer

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Grab your smelling salts!


UPDATE 18/3: Hannibal the corpse flower has this morning started to open and is expected to be in full bloom by this afternoon.

But you better be quick: the Titan Arum is likely to start closing by lunchtime tomorrow (Sunday).


EARLIER: A rare flower with the decidedly unromantic aroma of rotting flesh is on the verge of blooming at Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Currently in its pre-bloom inflorescence stage, the 2m Titan Arum – named Hannibal – is set to unfold its petals sometime this week, possibly within the next two days.

Titan Arum is commonly known – for reasons that become apparent upon blossoming – as the ‘corpse flower’.

Botanists say that while its stench – which has been compared to soiled nappies, rotten eggs and bloating roadkill – is not particularly pleasant to human nostrils, it’s a major attractant to the beetles and flies that pollinate the flower.

Stink aside, Titan Arum also holds claim to one of the most unusual – and amusing – scientific names in the plant world; Amorphophallus Titanum means ‘misshapen giant penis’.

Cairns Botanic Gardens made national headlines last year with the blooming of a 282cm, record-breaking Titan Arum named Spud in January last year.

Spud’s olfactory assault drew hundreds of curious families, visitors and photographers keen to catch the corpse flower in action (Titan Arum flowers typically close within two days of opening.)

For updates on Hannibal’s pongy progress, keep a regular eye on the gardens’ Facebook page.