Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week of the Triffids: Amorphophallus titanum.

The monstrous stench-blossom above is called Amorphophallus titanum. Yes, that name means exactly what you think it means: "Giant misshapen cock." More family-friendly names include "titan arum" and "corpse flower." Those might not be pleasant, but they are PG-13.

Mommy, I wanna see the giant deformed wang!

The titan arum is found only along the edges of the Sumatran rain forest. It is actually made up of several flowers surrounding a spadix and is the largest single inflorescence in the world. As a whole structure, it can reach over 10 feet in height. It gets even taller as it matures, yielding brightly colored fruit and resembling a small tree by the end of its life cycle.

It also reeks. Oh, how it reeks; these plants only bloom for a short time (1-2 days). They need to attract as many bugs as possible to pollinate them in that short time and do so by smelling like dead meat. The plant also produces heat approximately the same temperature as the human body to further the illusion.

So is this old lady a flesh-eating zombie, dead in bed, or JUST taking a picture of a plant that will CLEARLY not be entirely visible at the angle she's shooting at? (Come to think of it, does she even have a camera?)

If any of this sounds an awful lot like Vileplume the rafflesia, you have a good memory and are a keen observer. Both of these plants are pollinated by carrion-eating beetles, and both are from the Sumatran rain forest. Great vines stink alike. *SHOT. No, seriously, that was bad of me.* (Technically, the rafflesia is a giant disembodied flower and the arum is a genuine, vineless plant, but c'mon...allow me to have SOME fun with this.)

Can this plant get any weirder? Well, its relatives can...

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