It isn’t everyday you are given the rare opportunity to witness nature at its prime.  So, when the chance arose to visit one of the top ten largest flowers in the world, we decided this was an opportunity we did not want to miss.

We don’t have plans to visit Western Sumatra any time soon and Amorphophallus Titanum, also known as the titan arum or the “corpse plant” was close to blooming right in our city at the Botanical Gardens of the University of Basel.

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With the children at our sides (what an excellent educational opportunity) we paid our five francs per adult, were ushered into a room where we learned (in German) a bit more about this exotic flower.

When we first sat down, I thought we had been taken for a bit of a ride.  A large replica of the flower appeared, but the real thing was nowhere insight.  Oh, that tricky language piece we are still stumbling over, but after a 10-minute lecture, we were escorted into a temperature-controlled room, where in the mist of plants, humid air and many onlookers, an odd scene displayed itself in front of us.  A flower so magnificent, so enormously grand that to try and describe it is to somehow do this creature with unreal properties a great injustice. Our son was in full amazement and even showed his best buddy (Geo) the scale of the flower that towered over him.

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When we saw the flower it was not yet in bloom – a little detail we were quite glad to miss, as the flower in bloom apparently throws off such a horrendous stench of rotting flesh (like an animal in decomposition) that being in its’ presence for more than a few minutes might make any onlooker and certainly this lady quite ill.

Overall, the flower was pretty impressive.  She or he (apparently the female will bloom first and the male will follow a couple of days later) can reach over 10 feet in height!  It is absolutely stunning and something we felt grateful to visit in this lifetime.

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