Fascinating Appearance of ‘Titan Arum’ in Kerala

The Corpse Flower Blooms, Attracts Visitors and Carnivorous Bugs

Freestyle

News - India & You

July 22, 2016

/ By / New Delhi



World’s stinkiest flower, called so for its pungent smell resembling rotten flesh, bloomed at Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and Garden in Alattil, North Wayanad, Kerala, India. It has grown out of a seed planted about nine years ago and stands tall at a height of almost two metres. Native to Sumatra, Indonesia, the flower lures in flies to get pollinated and its bloom lasts only 24 to 48 hours.

Amorphophallus Titanum, commonly known as the Corpse Flower or Titan Arum, planted at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, established by a German, late Wolfgang Theuerkauf, has been growing there ever since nine years. Hundreds of visitors are flocking in to catch a whiff of the signature stink of the flower bud that may take years to form but only blooms for a day or two before collapsing to restart the cycle.

Classified as a ‘vulnerable’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the flower is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. It is uncommon in cultivation and blooms are even more rare. It also produces the largest leaf in the world reaching 15-20 feet high.

This plant was first discovered in Sumatra, Indonesia in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari, and it immediately received world-wide attention due to its massive size, appearance and the nauseating odour resembling rotten flesh. The flower is a mixture of tiny male and female flowers held out of sight at the base of the central phallus-like structure (spadix) and surrounded by a pleated skirt-like covering (spathe) that is bright green on the outside and deep maroon inside when opened.

It received its name ‘Titan Arum’ from the legendary Sir David Attenborough, who first used the name to refer to this magnificent tropical flower in the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants.

It emits a nauseating smell on flowering and for good reason. “It makes the pollinators (dung beetles and flesh flies) think there’s rotten meat somewhere to lay their eggs, and then that helps the corpse flower to get pollinated,” says Mo Fayyaz, the green-house and garden director at the University of Wisconsin’s department of botany, according to National Geographic. The flower, that cannot self-pollinate, actually heats up to human body temperature to allure pollinators.

The corpse flower has been in news for its recent blooming across the world at Chicago in April 2016, The UK in May 2016, Australia in December 2015 among others (slideshow).

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