Monday, January 2, 2012

MONDAY MORNING SCIENCE CORNER: Amorphophallus titanum AKA The Stench of Death And Decay


Man, DoomUnicorn has been breaching all kinds of etiquette lately. Not only did he come out of nowhere with this whole "IllCon East vs. IllCon West" feud (see last post), but he added insult to injury by posting pornogrind on a Monday, which we all know is verboten. Not only that, but the guy spelled "cryptosporidium" wrong multiple times in said post--I mean, who spells "cryptosporidium" incorrectly? Rookie moves, man. Rookie moves.

Anyhow, West Coast Envy notwithstanding, we now return you to your scheduled program: Monday Morning Science Corner, the CORRECT, educated, West Coast version of Monday mornings at ICHQ. Today's subject is the "corpse flower" AKA "carrion flower", a topic recommended by These A Beast--who I thank graciously, and forgive for living on the wretched East Coast of these United States.

Wikipedia: The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "phallus", and titan, "giant" = "Giant Misshapen Penis") is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The titan arum's inflorescence is not as large as that of the Talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera, but the inflorescence of the Talipot palm is branched rather than unbranched.
Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is characterized as a carrion flower, and is also known as the "corpse flower", or "corpse plant" (Indonesian:
bunga bangkaibunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver). For the same reason, the title "corpse flower" is also attributed to the genus Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, grows in the rainforests of Sumatra.

Sumatra is also known for its vicious Rat Monkeys


The titan arum's inflorescence can reach over 3 metres (10 ft) in height. Like the related cuckoo pint and calla lily, it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like a large petal. In the case of the titan arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The "fragrance" of the titan arum resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The inflorescence's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.
After the flower dies back, a single leaf, which reaches the size of a small tree, grows from the underground corm. The leaf grows on a semi-green stalk that branches into three sections at the top, each containing many leaflets. The leaf structure can reach up to 6 metres (20 ft) tall and 5 metres (16 ft) across. Each year, the old leaf dies and a new one grows in its place. When the corm has stored enough energy, it becomes dormant for about 4 months. Then, the process repeats.
The corm is the largest known, weighing around 50 kilograms (110 lb). When a specimen at the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Gardens, was repotted after its dormant period, the weight was recorded as 91 kilograms (200 lb).


Above: Visual approximation of Amorphophallus titanum's bloom odor

Left: related "corpse flower" species Rafflesia.

So let's see here: Amorphophallus titanum is a flower that a) comes from the very-metal location of Sumatra, b) grows to as much as 20 feet tall and 16 feet wide, c) blooms only after 7-15 years of life, d) has a Latin name that means "giant, misshapen dick", and e) mimics the smell (and appearance, and temperature) of rotting flesh to attract insects.
Holy fuck. That is Very Metal.

For a fucking flower, I mean.



Titan arum blooming in time lapse:



And lastly, David Attenborough breaks it down:




PS: Speaking of shit that stinks, Episode 16 of IllCon Radio is now up for download and streaming HERE. Learn about the deep UFOlogy behind Blink 182, Alan Moore’s masturbation sorcery, and the soon-to-be-released Grateful Dead MMORPG!

Lots of really cool stuff is coming up on the show in January as well, including an in-depth study of the conspiracy theories connected to Kubrick's The Shining (hint: it's a palindrome), an interview with Peaches Christ, an entire episode about Disney's ties to mind control, Illuminati symbolism, and Satan, and the return of the almighty Freeman. Turn on, tune in, and HESH OUT!

6 comments:

DoomUnicorn said...

Cobras, check your inter-office mail. Here at IC East it's MONDAY MORNING MEXICAN PORNOGRIND CORNER. But have fun with your Monday Morning Flower Corner or whatever.

these a beast said...

fecking nice post and i made this because there is some deep meaning in it somewhere if you stare at it long enough: http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lx73mm8HFy1r4x118o1_500.jpg

Aylmer said...

My girlfriend dragged me to the Sydney botanical gardens last year to see one of these in full bloom in their greenhouse pyramid thing. I'm glad she did, it was pretty amazing.

We've got a small Rafflesia in our back yard, and it's been blooming in the last month or so. The flower is pretty small though, only about 4-5 inches across.

Happy 2012 to all at ICHQ!!

JGD said...

Excellent cameo by Cephalotripsy in this post.

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