The Titan Arum, also known as the "Corpse Flower" because of its rotting-flesh scent, originates from Sumatra's rain forest and its humid climate. The flower rarely blossoms, even in the wild.
This plant's Latin name, Amorphophallus Titanum, translates to "giant, misshapen phallus." It can grow to 8 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds, requiring a a year or more for the plant to store enough energy to bloom.
The seeds of a Titan Arum. So far only 134 Titan Arums have bloomed from artificial cultivation.
The substantial height of the Titan Arum broadcasts its stench to beetles and bees over a half-mile radius. These insects find the plant to be a primo location to lay their eggs, which in turn helps the process of pollination for the Titan Arum.
Once pollinated, the female flowers develop into bright orange-red fruits that are carried in cylindrical clusters on the central stem. This is why the plant is not technically a flower, but an inflorescence.
The plant heats itself to 98.6 degrees F, another way it deceives insects into thinking the plant is a newly ripening hunk of meat. Some scientists theorize that the fleshy colors of the leaves (or spathe) add to the illusion.
Plants that reek of dead animal carcasses fall under the category of carrion flowers. The striped carrion flower pictured is coated with fine hairs, giving it a moldy countenance.
The plant's gross-out factor makes it a big hit with kids. The Titan Arum shown here at Kew Gardens in London in 2002 took six years to flower and weighed approximately 200 pounds.
morphophallus titanum (Araceae, native of Sumatra) with 5-foot tall flower (smells like rotting flesh) at Berkeley Botanic Garden.