Titan arum

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The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "phallus", and titan, "giant") is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. (The largest single flower is borne by the Rafflesia arnoldii; the largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera).

Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal,[1] the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" (Indonesian: bunga bangkaibunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the rainforests of Sumatra).

Contents

Distribution

Amorphophallus titanum is indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra and endemic to Indonesia. It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. The plant is cultivated in many botanic gardens around the world.

Description

The titan arum's inflorescence can reach over 3 metres (10 ft) in height. Like the related cuckoo pint and calla lily, it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like the flower's single petal. In the case of the Titan Arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The "fragrance" of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The flower's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.

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