Saturday, July 24, 2010

Corpse Flower in Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens Stuttgart

Photo: Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum) in Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens Stuttgart, Germany - photo dated October 20, 2005 by Lothar Grünz.

The interesting news of thousands of residents of Tokyo queuing up to view a rare flower known as the Corpse Flower, also known as Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), came after such flowerings of the plants cultivated in botanical gardens in Berkeley and Houston, USA. The rare flower of the plant drew in thousands of visitors because it bloomed after about 20 years.

The Corpse Flower emits the stench of rotten dead bodies (and hence the name) but it is quite gorgeous to look at. It is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The distinction of the largest single flower goes to Rafflesia arnoldii, and largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera).

Both Titan arum and Rafflesia arnoldii are natives of Indonesia, mainly found in the tropical rain forests of Sumatra, and both share the common name Corpse Flower (bunga bangkai in Indonesian - bunga means flower and bangkai means corpse or cadaver). Flowers of the category Carrion flowers or stinking flowers generally emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh to attract mostly scavenging flies and beetles as pollinators.

Many plants in the genus Amorphophallus are carrion flowers. Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) presents an inflorescence or compound flower composed of a spadix or stalk of small and anatomically reduced male and female flowers, surrounded by a spathe that resembles a single giant petal.

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