Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Rotting Flesh

If you have a moment today, do visit the webcam of the Amorphophallus Titanum.
Also known as the Titan Arum, this giant flower is... oh wait - lemme just copy some of their description first -

"Amorphophallus Titanumthe, titan arum, is a tuberous plant endemic to western Sumatra, where it grows in openings in rainforest on limestone hills. Locals know it by the more evocative name 'corpse flower' (bunga bangkai), because of the hideous stench the fly-pollinated inflorescences produce.
Our largest Amorphophallus titanum is finally producing its first flower bud after 10 years since planting from seed. This rare species from the rainforests of Sumatra boasts the largest un-branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom. "

This giant, smelly flower is housed on the UConn campus. We went to visit the flower last week, and have been watching the webcam ever since - waiting for it to bloom. I was surprised that on a sunny Sunday afternoon we found a line of people waiting to see it. Evidently everyone on campus is also quite excited. You will see, if you visit the webcam during visiting hours, that the staff even had Titan Arum T-shirts made. Ah, the thrill-a-minute life of the botanist.
I am very curious about the smell. The odor has been compared to rotting flesh - this seems to attract the flies needed for pollination. Luckily, I know someone working on campus who has promised to run over and smell it as soon as it begins to bloom.
We will have to be satisfied with this verbal description of the odor… still waiting for scratch-n-sniff web.

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