Hold Your Nose…This is One Stinky Flower!

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Flowers are supposed to smell beautiful. But that isn’t the case with the Titan Arum – better known as the “Corpse Flower.”

What’s all the “stink” about? Read on…

Fun (and Funky) Facts About the Corpse Flower

920x920Did You Know?

  • This plant is one of the largest on Earth. It can measure from 10 to 15 feet tall!
  • The leaves of the Titan Arum can measure up to 13 feet wide.
  • This flower is considered an inflorescence – a stalk with many flowers. It also has a mixture of tiny male and female flowers growing at the base of a “fleshy” axis.
  • The Corpse Flower can take up to seven years to bloom. The bloom will only last for a few days before it collapses.
  • The corm of this plant (the underground bulb) can weigh as much as 220 pounds!
  • This plant is native to tropical regions of Asia.

Why Does this Plant Stink?

animated-fly-image-0001The Corpse Flower smells really bad to attract insects. It not only stinks but it is dark burgundy and can also heat up to 98 degrees F. These are both signals to carnivorous insects, like dung beetles, and flesh flies, that something has died.

How it works is the hungry bugs fly inside, realize there is nothing to eat, then fly off with pollen on their legs. This process ensures the ongoing pollination of the species.

What’s All That Stink About?

There are a lot of chemicals at work in the Titan Arum which gives it that pungent odor. Check it out.

  • dimethyl trisulfide (also emitted by cooked onions and Limburger cheese)
  • dimethyl disulfide (which has an odor like garlic)animated-cheese-image-0002
  • trimethylamine (found in rotting fish or ammonia)
  • isovaleric acid (which also causes sweaty socks to stink)
  • benzyl alcohol (a sweet floral scent found in jasmine and hyacinth)
  • phenol (sweet and medicinal, as in Chloraseptic throat spray)
  • indole (like mothballs)

This is one smelly flower!

If you had the chance to visit a Corpse Flower would you be brave enough to take a sniff?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

Categories: Nature

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