The inflorescence of the titan arum plant attracts specific pollinators by emitting an intense, carrion-like odor.

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“The titan’s inflorescence is said to give off a revolting stench…As we sat beside it, the smell seemed to come in waves. Sometimes it was strong; sometimes it faded. There was no wind in the forest, so we had to conclude that the flower was sending out its perfume in pulses.” (Attenborough 1995:139)

“A pronounced odor, different from species to species but usually carrion-like. A truly classical demonstration of its biological significance was given in 1926 by Knoll (1)…the odor serves the purpose of attracting large numbers of small insects-mostly Psychodid flies, but also some Staphylinid beetles-which are thereupon trapped in the floral chamber where they are held prisoner for about a day.” (Bastiaan 1960:70)

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The Private Life of PlantsBBC BooksAugust 21, 1995
David Attenborough

“The titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is a flowering plant with the largest inflorescence in the world. The flower emits a unique rotting animal-like odor that attracts insects for pollination…The main odorant causing the smell during the flower-opening phase was identified as dimethyl trisulfide, a compound with a sulfury odor that has been found to be emitted from some vegetables, microorganisms, and cancerous wounds.” (Shirasu et al. 2010:2550)

Journal article
Chemical identity of a rotting animal-like odor emitted from the inflorescence of the titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum)Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 74.12 (2010): 2550-2554.Shirasu M, Fujioka K, Kakishima S, Nagai S, Tomizawa Y, Tsukaya H, Murata J, Manome Y, Touhara K.

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Titan ArumAmorphophallus titanumSpecies

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