A stinking link
What did Peter Sellers
, Harry Houdini
, Mel Blanc
(the voice of Tweety Pie), Colonel Sanders
of KFC infamy and Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles
have in common?
And that was a very awkward segue into some news of interest to my readers here in Indonesia, the UK and, possibly, the USA.
Thanks to the Guardian Weblog
, I have discovered that the plant that I knew as the Raffleasia
is blooming in Cambridge
. What can be seen is actually a Titan Arum, whose Latin name, Amorphophallus titanium, is very descriptive, 'Amorpho meaning shapeless, phallus meaning penis, and titanum meaning huge
Another one has recently bloomed in northern California at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
. A description of one that bloomed last year makes interesting reading
. Amorphophallus titanum, which is native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, spends most of its life as an underground stem called a corm. Once a year, the plant puts out a single green leaf that lasts about six months. Eventually, it puts out a flower shoot instead, hoping to attract flies carrying pollen from another of its kind.
In fact, US dwellers have quite a few
to view. They have also bloomed at Bonn's Botanic Gardens
and Kew Gardens
Jakarta dwellers prefer to visit the Bogor Botanical Gardens
to see the flower
. These gardens were developed by a young Stamford Raffles
before he went on to found Singapore
and give his name to a hotel
and a very slightly different flower.
Actually seeing one in the wild is very difficult, involving jungle treks in such nature reserves as Rimbo Panti
in West Sumatra, a few kilometres south of Hotel Rimbo
which is just north of the Equator. This is where I've only ever seen the remains of the Raffleasia, which reminded me of a deflated football. There's a picture of one here
. The one thing missing, which, apart from its size, makes it distinctive, was the smell. It's not for nothing that Indonesians know it as bunga bangkai
, the corpse flower.
And that's another link
the five folk mentioned in the first paragraph have in common.
Cambridge 27 August 2004