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Current Affairs

Corpse flower

Date: 22 May 2021 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

Thousands of people have thronged a gas station in San Francisco to have a glimpse of one of the rarest flowers, dubbed as ‘corpse flower’.

 

Background

The Corpse flower is named so because of its putrid smell that is similar to rotting flesh. It is extremely rare and does not bloom often.

 

Details

  • The scientific name of the flower is Amorphophallus titanium and is known to bloom once every seven to ten years, depending upon various conditions.

  • The plant is a native species of Indonesia but it has been globally grown across different botanical garden and greenhouses.

  • It grows in rainforests of Sumatra Islands and the name of the plant translates to giant and misshaped phallus.

  • The plant can grow up to a height of 10 feet and unveil skirt-like petals and yellow rod-shaped spadix.

  • The energy of the plant is stored in an underground plant stem known as corm. Its corm sometimes is said to grow about 100 kg.

  • The average lifespan of the plant is about three to four decades. The inflorescence of the plant is said to be world’s largest.

  • The unique and distinct character of the pungent smell is emitted only during its bloom. This is once every 10 years or so.

 

Reason behind unique odour

Chemicals such as dimethyl disulfide and methyl thiolacetate are behind the stench. Similar stench is given out by cancerous wounds and certain microbes.

 

Rareness of the plant

  • The plant is facing threat of extinction due to deforestation for agriculture and timber in its native region of Sumatran rainforests.

  • The plant thrives in a particular heat and humidity. This makes it difficult to be grown outside its natural environment.

  • Inbreeding between the plants has led to loss of genetic variety. This leads to decline in seeds and ultimately reduction in numbers.