The world s smelliest flower produces an aroma like a dead corpse, why

01:00 Mon 11th Jun 2001 |

A.� The flower, Titan arum, is a carrion flower. Carrion flowers mimic the smell a rotting corpse in order to attract flesh and faecal loving insects. These insects, which are the most common pollinators in Titan arum’s native equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra, normally lay their eggs in dead flesh. As the insects pass from flower to flower pollination occurs. However, the insect’s eggs do not survive as there isn’t any suitable food when they hatch.

Carrion flowers also resemble flesh with their dark red flowers.

The Titan arum, is also known as Amophophallus titanum or the corpse flower, also has the world’s largest flowering structure.

Q.� What causes the disgusting smell

A.� The repulsive scent, which is strongest at night has been described as, amongst other things, as a combination of rotting fish and burnt sugar. Two major constituents are responsible: dimethyl disulphide and dimethyl trisulphide, two compounds with sickening smells. The enormous blossom generates such an overwhelming smell that people have been known to faint from its aroma.

Q.� How tall does the corpse flower grow

A. To almost 3 metres.

Q.� Is the corpse flower the world’s tallest flower

A.� No, as it’s technically an inflorescence, or cluster, of numerous small flowers. The world’s tallest flower is the Amorphophallus gigas, which can grows to 4 metres.

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by Lisa Cardy

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