The titan arum (or stink plant) is an odd plant however you look at it. Known as the ‘Corpse flower’ in Indonesia, it’s a colossal organism, the central column of ‘spadix’ growing up to three metres tall. The plant’s corm – the underground root system where it stores food – is the largest in the world, the one at Kew Gardens weighing in at an astonishing 91kg when it was repotted last year.
Once the flowers around it are ready for pollination, the spadix begins to generate the disgusting smell to attract sweat bees, beetles and other carcass-eating insects. Thinking they’ve found a meal, or somewhere to lay their eggs, the insects arrive, crawl over the flower and while they go away hungry, they also ensure pollination occurs. To make certain of this, the spadix’s tip heats to near human body temperature while the red colouration and texture of the lower section completes the illusion.