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Corpse Flower is World's Tallest and It Awful Odor

Updated on December 24, 2011

The flower is more commonly known as "corpse flower" or "carrion flower" because its foul smell attracts carrion beetles and flies which help it pollinate.

Its scientific name is "titan arum", or "amorphophallus titanum" (which in Greek means "formless giant").

And a giant it is. This flower is taller than a human. It can grow to be as high as nine feet making it the tallest flower specie in the world.[3] You can see its size in comparison to a human next to it in the BBC News article linked here.

BBC News also reported in May 2003 of a corpse flower in University of Germany Boon that was supposedly the tallest at the time at 2.74 meters.[5] But that record was broken by another bloom in Stuttgart Germany which grew to 2.94 meters (nine and a half feet).[6]

The corpse flower has been labeled by as being the tallest flower, but not the largest flower. They labeled the Rafflesia arnoldii as being the largest at 3 feet wide and 24 pounds heavy.[3]

Foul Smelling Flower

The smell of the corpse flower in bloom has been described as "cooking cabbage and a dead rat in the wall, a mixture of the two".[1] A more succinct description may be "rotting flesh" and "fully smelly".[1] Others describe it as "rotting fish or dead animal".[6]

Another article titled "World's Smelliest Flower Opens" says that the smell can be detected up to a kilometer away. A spectator said "It smells like a dead person ... I happen to be a nurse and that is exactly what it smells like."[8] Maybe that is why the flower is referred to as "corpse flower".  The article was referring to the bloom at Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California in August 1999.

Although it is hard to say which flower is the smelliest since smell is rather subjective and is hard to scientifically measure. In addition, the smell comes and goes. One person who visited the another flower in University of California at Berkeley's botanical gardens said "the stench was disappointingly underwhelming."[7]

When in bloom, the corpse flower has a temperature similar to that of human body temperature which is another factor to lure carcass-eating insects.

The flower likes to grow in the edges of tropical rainforests in Sumatra and Indonesia. But it can be found in some botanical gardens across the world. The corpse flower had in the past been on display at Houston Museum of Natural Science, Kew Gardens in London, University of Germany Boon, University of California at Berkeley, and elsewhere.

Corpse Flower
Corpse Flower | Source


Article written in February 2011.


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    • Friend of Friends profile image

      Friend of Friends 6 years ago

      Great info for those who want to know about this big and disliked smell-full flower.