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Australian National Botanic Gardens
Growing, studying and promoting Australian plants

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GPO Box 1777
Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone (02) 6250 9546
Facsimile (02) 62509599
Media enquiries: Paul Ziesing (M) 0418 955 661


26 November 2003

The smell of the Elephant Yam

One of the Botanic Gardens' most unusual plants - the Elephant Yam - is now in full flower in the Display Glasshouse. The flower of the Elephant Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius) is a large purple knob with a scent like rotting flesh to attract its pollinators, carrion flies and beetles.

The Elephant Yam is found in tropical Queensland and Northern Territory in seasonally dry areas and also occurs through the tropics, from India to Papua New Guinea It belongs to the Aroid family, which also includes many more familiar plants such as Arum lilies and species of Monstera and Philodendron.

Because it is a tropical plant from monsoonal areas it requires ample water during the growing season but also needs a dry period. At the Botanic Gardens corms of potted specimens are removed and stored dry during the winter period and replanted each spring. A high phosphorus fertilizer is occasionally applied to ensure maximum growth and health of the plant.

The Elephant Yam should remain in flower for about 10 days and can be viewed in the Display Glasshouse from 10.00am to 3.00pm each day.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens is on Clunies Ross Street, Acton on the lower slopes of Black Mountain, Canberra.

Media contact: Paul Ziesing
Communications Officer
Australian National Botanic Gardens
(02) 6250 9546
0418 955 661

26 November 2003

[see our web site for more information on Amorphophallus paeoniifolius]