Source: China Daily

04-30-2009 10:51

Special Report:   Tech Max

BEIJING, April 28 -- Its bizarre appearance and sheer size have long attracted curious visitors and avid gardeners alike.

But anyone wanting to see this Titan Arum flower would be wise to keep their distance this weekend. For when it blooms – which experts predict should occur in the next few days – it will release not the fragrant scent of most flowers, but a revolting stench rather like rotting flesh.

And to make matters worse, two Arums are due to flower at the same time – a first in Kew Gardens' 250-year history. The plant – which is indigenous to Indonesia and also goes by the name "the corpse flowe"’ – blooms just once every six or seven years.

Twelve of them are housed in Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory among hundreds of other tropical plants. At the Arum’s base is an outer layer of grooved leaves, which open to form a bell-shaped cup or deep red "spathe."

A band of cream flowers circles the base of the stem or "spadix,"

which sits on a ring of larger, pink flowers. When the plants are ready to pollinate, the spadix heats up to release a pungent smell, which lasts for about three days. Flesh-eating beetles, attracted by the "fragrance," crawl into the open cup while bees and other insects flock to its coloured base.

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