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The Titan Arum (Amorphophallus Titanum)

This plant is often referred to as the Corpse Flower. This is due to the putrid smell that emanates from it. The scientific name, Amorphophallus Titanum translates directly to “giant misshapen penis.” With that said, let's look at the science behind this fascinating flower.

Physical Description and Behavior

This plant is known as the largest flowering plant in the world. The flower itself can stand up to 3 meters high, which is taller than even the tallest humans. They have large leaves that are reddish-purple when opened and green when closed. Despite their fame, they rarely bloom, even if they are kept inside of botanical gardens where the temperature and humidity are controlled.

This flower can grow rather quickly, sometimes up to 6 inches of growth per day. The huge flower is fed nutrients by what is basically a huge tuber that lies at its roots. This tuber can weigh as much as 200 pounds in some cases, and grow far larger than a beach ball. Sounds like it would make a rather interesting plate of french fries.

Probably the most notable feature, outside of its size, is its smell. Their scent smells like rotting meat. Many people have attributed this putrid scent to that of a decomposing corpse. It smells this way to draw in carrion beetles and flesh flies, which the plant uses as pollinators.

Habitat and Location

Thi plant is only known to exist in western Sumatra, and western Java. They prefer rainforest openings and even are seen on limestone hills. Despite this, they are found all over the world, in botanical gardens, and the homes of certain collectors. Although the idea of keeping a flower that smells like death near your home is an odd one.

The IUCN classifies this plant as endangered, with its population declining.

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