I was in horticulture heaven despite the stench. It was a potentially once-in-a-lifetime moment to see such a unique plant at its pinnacle.
The next few photos were taken in the week leading up to the bloom, with the spathe still tightly wrapped around the spadix.
I also paid a short visit to the conservatory after the bloom finished. In order to hand pollinate the flowers, Debbie Black cut ports into two sides of the spathe. As you can see below, the inflorescence is actually made up of numerous male (top) and female (bottom) flowers.
Within 48 hours after opening, the spadix slumped and the spathe began to degrade. Part of me found the declining flower as beautiful as the full bloom.
For many serious plant aficionados, seeing Amorphophallus titanum in bloom is a bucket list item. As for all of the other people who waited in line to sample its stench, I'll chalk it up to the same human psychological factors that make a tourist attraction out of a five-legged calf in Kansas and a television icon out of Jerry Springer.
Laura Hayden has written a more detailed, botanically-relevant article on Amorphophallus titanum on her Durable Gardening blog. Check it out at http://durablegardening.blogspot.com/2011/07/amorphophallus-titanum.html You can also follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter.