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From the Encylopedia of Life: "The giant leaves and flowers of the titan arum are produced from an equally enormous tuber that lies under the rainforest soil, and acts as a food storage organ. Each year the leaf dies back before a new one develops but eventually the inflorescence begins to emerge in its place, growing at an amazing 10 cm a day. Once the spathe has unfurled in all its glory the female flowers are ready to receive pollinators. The spadix heats up emitting a putrid stench that has lead to the Indonesian name for this flower of 'bunga bangkai' or 'corpse flower'. It is thought that the smell helps to attract carrion beetles or sweat bees from far away; once inside the welcoming spathe they are trapped, unable to scale the smooth walls or the bulge in the spadix that tops the flowers. Male flowers release their pollen the next day and the appendix of the spadix begins to wither, thus allowing the insects to escape, brushing through the pollen on their way. This mechanism of consecutive flowering means that self-fertilisation is prevented. After flowering, the enormous spathe petal collapses and twists around the base of the spadix, protecting the developing fruit within. As the fruits ripen, the spathe completely rots away leaving the bright red berries on display to be eaten, and therefore dispersed, by rainforest birds such as hornbills."
The extremely rare Amorphophallus Titanum, also known as Bungai Bankai - "Corpse Flower" in Indonesia, is only found on the island of Sumatra. This specific flower, already a day or two past full bloom, was less than 25 meters from the small, rural village of Tandai, growing amongst a small grove of banana trees (which the villagers had recently cut down, as apparent in the pictures). I was told that when the flower was in full bloom approximately 2 days ago, they had to leave their homes because the stench of decaying flesh was unbearable. Villagers say that there is about 5 years, give or take, between flowerings of a particular plant. It seems to favor dappled shade over a thick canopy, with more frequent blooms when found in the former. The village of Tandai is on the edge of the Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.
***The first image is of the inside of the flower looking down, with the spathe on the bottom and the spadix on the top. The male and female flowers would be at the bottom of the spadix, but are not visible in the picture (I believe part of the spathe would have to be cut away to get access to them). ***The fourth picture shows the base of the spathe from the outside. Notice the spots which are meant to resemble lichens, hopefully fooling any herbivores into thinking the titan arum is an old, inedible tree trunk. ***For a size comparison, the fifth picture shows my 5'1" tall (155 cm) wife. ***For reference, the last picture shows a nearby Titan Arum still in leaf form. ***You can see the location of the flower in bloom and some of the nearby specimens in this google map: http://goo.gl/maps/M7HPD ***Also some more pictures of the area can be seen about halfway through this facebook album: http://on.fb.me/ZYt9rX