Thursday, August 9, 2007

David Attenborough's encounter with Amorphophallus Titanum in Sumatra

"Finding a flower with such a such a *brief life is clearly not easy .... a never-to-be-forgotten thrill....It was so out of scale with every other plant around it that it seemed to belong to another world, to have landed perhaps from outer space. For some indefinable reason I felt that it would not be surprising to see it make some convulsive movement." "Such a gigantic inflorescence seems unnecessarily large to attract pollinators as small as sweat bees or even carrion beetles. However, its size is more likely connected with the pungency and distribution of its odour than the size of its pollinators.
To produce its perfume, the plant raises its internal temperature secreted in its heart. The perfume then emerges from a slit in the side of the spadix. It would be more accurate, therefore, to compare the spadix with a factory chimney rather than a church spire, and plainly the taller it is, the more widely it will disperse its scent. And it is indeed spectacularly successful in doing so, for the villagers who had guided us to the flower told us that even they had discovered it by sniffing in the air from fifty yards away."

From "The private life of plants".

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