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Titan arum (corpse flower)

Amorphophallus titanum

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 a large 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 titan arum resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The inflorescence'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.

Habitat:

Amorphophallus titanum is endemic to western Sumatra, where it grows in openings in rainforests on limestone hills. The plant is cultivated by botanic gardens and private collectors around the world.

Notes:

Saw at the Houston zoo, unfortunately I was a day late to see it bloom.

No species ID suggestions

Houston, Texas, USA

Lat: 29.71, Long: -95.39

Spotted on Sep 14, 2011
Submitted on Apr 4, 2012

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