Apr 23, 2010

Titan Arum

Photo source: Jo Jan/US Botanic Garden via Wikipedia
There's nothing particularly ugly about the looks of this flower. It's the infamous Corpse Flower, dubbed 'titan arum' by Sir David Attenborough. You see, he didn't want to constantly refer to its scientific name during a documentary--it wouldn't have been appropriate. The scientific name is Amorphophallus titanum, and I'll let you follow this link to find out what that means.

Why is this enormous flower (the largest non-branched example of inflorescence on the planet, measuring 10 feet in circumference) called the Corpse Flower? Because it has discovered that it attracts more carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies with the stench of rotting mammal meat than it does with sweet nectar. There's a moral in that somewhere. Ask your grandma.


Rather than emit a sweet smell, it reeks of decay to attract its pollinators, the afore mentioned flies and beetles. It's believed that even its deep purple color is meant to fool its pollinators into thinking it's dead meat.

Though native only to Sumatra, the Corpse Flower is in cultivation all over the world. It was once even the official flower of the Bronx, New York. So look for one in your next run to a botanical garden. Be sure to bring your carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies with you. They'll enjoy the treat.

Thanks for the titan arum, Tom.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey kids, makes a great corsage!

Jenny Reiswig said...

It's not the only meat-stench flower. Rafflesia is another genus of giant stinky flowers that can beat this one out by weight (though smaller) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafflesia

Danielle said...

FEEEEED ME SEYMORE!

Tianna said...

I have one at my school :D It bloomed about 2 years ago.

It actually warms up the air around it by about 10 degrees and smells just..lovely...

Jelo said...

Danielle, I was thinking the same thing!

Sales jobs said...

I didn't know that. Thank you for the trivia.