This plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia and is now considered vulnerable in the wild. Before 1987 this plant had only 21 flowering events recorded world wide. Since the 1990s this number has increased to 80. These low numbers are due to the scarcity of the plant and also the difficulty involved with nursing it to flowering maturity.
The plant itself can reach either 6 metres high or 3 metres high. This depends on luck, as the tuber it grows from will either produce a giant leaf (6 metres) or an inflorescence (cluster of flowers (3 metres)). The staff in the Botanical Gardens told me that the plant is now growing at an incredible rate of 10cm per day. The plant when mature produces orange / red berries. The rotting meat smell produced from the inflorescence helps with pollination. The smell attracts things such as flies, beetles and insects which pollinate the plants as opposed to pollination by bees.
As you can see from my pictures below the Titan arum that it isn't flowering yet. Once the flowers have bloomed they last only 2-3 days (which is also the only time you can smell its famous odour). According to staff it is due to flower on Christmas day or boxing day. Unfortunately I cannot visit it on either of those days but I plan to see it on Christmas eve so hopefully it will be open then. If not there are 5 other Titan arums being grown at the Botanic Gardens so I may be able to see one of those plants flowering some time in the future. The Ammorphophallus titanum can be found in the tropical greenhouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne at the time of writing this blog entry.
I would approximate that this Titan arum was about 1.8 metres tall.
Seeing lots of other there to see this rare plant made me feel less tragic for having travelled 50 minutes to see it (well slightly less tragic).
This information plaque was full of, you guessed it, information!