Field of Science

Largest flower?

Here's another news article about the blooming of the "world's largest flower", and every time this happens, they make the same mistake; the "corpse flower" isn't a flower.  No question about it though, the titan aroid is an amazing plant, and seeing it in flower in person is very impressive.  The flowering structure can be over 6 feet tall, but you'd be more impressed by the odor.  TPP had a smaller species flower in his house a few years back.  It's equivalent structure was about 3 feet tall and on a 2 foot stalk.  It smelled like someone had dragged a cow carcass into out house, so Mrs. Phactor said, "OUT!".  This type of aroid produces the  odor of rotting flesh, a corpse.  This is a giant jack-in-the-pulpit and consists of a cloaking leaf, a spathe, and a spike of lots of little flowers on it called a spadix, some male flowers and some female flowers, and maybe some sterile ones too. All you usually see is the apex of the spike sticking up unless you cut the spathe out of the way.  The flowers are down at the bottom. When flying in toward the carrion, the pollinators, probably beetles, hit the spike and tumble into the funnel formed by the spathe.  So sorry, it's not a flower anymore than a sunflower is a flower.  Curiously the world's largest flower (Rafflesia) is also a carrion flower and it's plant is a complete parasite living under ground except for the flowers.

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