With rows of Dr. Seuss-like flowers hidden deep inside, the corpse flower plays
dead to lure some unusual pollinators.
It happens maybe only once a decade and lasts about 24 hours.
The bloom of the rare and gigantic Titan Arum, better known as the "corpse flower.
" It's a mimic. It copies the stench of dead, rotting animals. But, hold up.
What you're looking at isn't actually the flower.
That part? It's a modified leaf called the spathe. It eve looks like raw meat.
And this is the spadix. It heats up like a mammal's body.
So warm, it steams. It's all meant to attract its pollinators,
insects that lay their eggs on fresh carcasses. But the flowers?
They're way down in here. Each of these is a male flower.
And below, are the female ones. With just hours to reproduce,
the stakes are high for titan arum.
It would be easy if it could reproduce using its own pollen.
But the plant needs fresh genetic material pollen from other corpse flowers - to make these,
the fruit and seeds that eventually will become healthy new plants.
SO, it staggers things. The female flowers get ready first. They get sticky.
The plant sends out its powerful stench, more than 30 chemicals in all.
Some are nice. The spathe releases a jasmine smell. But mostly,
it smells like funky cheese rotting garlic or dead rat in the wall.
That aroma tricks flies to come investigate, thinking it might be a good spot
for their young. And they might bring along pollen from another corpse flower,
brushing it on the female flowers. A few hours later, the male flowers release
strings of pollen. Some of it falls on the female flowers but by then they're
no longer able to use it. Which is how the plant avoids pollinating itself.
Titan arum is rare. Poachers and deforestation in Sumatra where it's from have taken a toll.
And in botanical gardens, like here at the University of California in Berkeley,
they aren't any other titan arums in bloom to share pollen with.
So, when one opens up, biologist often collect pollens by hand to
freeze and use later, when another corpse flower is ready.
Which is how this lonely giant survives, with such a foul and fleeting bloom.
1. What is the Titan Arum known for? Where is it from?
2. Enumerate the parts of the Titan Arum plant.
3. How does this plant lure its pollinators? What are the factors of their rarity?