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Titan arum

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'''''Amorphophallus Titanum'''''
'''''Amorphophallus Titanum'''''

Revision as of 05:05, 3 May 2010

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Titan arum
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Scientific Classification
Species

Amorphophallus Titanum

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Image Description

Contents

Introduction

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Obtain your taxonomy information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Anatomy

Description

The Titan Arum is the largest inflorescence, and one of the stingiest flowers in the world. The flower is capable of growing 6 inches a day for few days and 2 inches a day after a while. When emerging above the ground, the flower shows itself as a pale-green, bud-shaped configuration composed of a petal-like spathe that surrounds a central spike-like spadix, which is concealed inside at first, and eventually grows in size and finally revealing itself as the entire flower swells. The plant absorbs immense amount of sunlight energy with its vast leaves and stores the energy in its corm, which is located underground. After several years, the plant is inclined to flower with the adequate accumulation of the energy, as the corm approximately surpasses 140 to 170 lbs. The spathe unfurls to display its internal crimson walls as the spadix maintains its growth in height, emerging above the spathe; the upper part is brownish-yellow and is the appendix. In fact, the ultimate height relies on the amount of energy stored in the corm. Rate of growth is dependent on the temperatures of day and night. The Corpse Flower remains full bloom for only about 2 days and collapses into a worn-out heap, and then it alternates the cycle. [1]

Flowers - seed producing parts of the plant. Male flowers are located in a band on top of the female flowers, which are visible at the bottom of the spadix. After pollination, the female flowers are displayed as olive-sized bright red fruits. [2]

The Corpse Flower is also believed to be one of the stingiest flowers in the world, having the strongest odor the first night after blooming. According to some observers, the scent seems to hold resemblance to rotten fish, which is caused by sulfur compounds, also contained in rotten eggs, providing the flower its smell. [3]

The species carry on photosynthesis - the process during which sugars are formed from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of light and chlorophyll, which cellular respiration converts into ATP. Most of the time, the process utilizes water and releases the oxygen. The formula is 6H2O + 6CO2 -> C6H12O6 + 6O2 (Carbon dioxide plus water plus energy yields glucose plus oxygen). The process is divided into two stages. The first stage is called the Light Dependent Process that occurs in the grana of chloroplasts. It requires the direct contact of sunlight energy to make energy that is used in the second stage. The Light Independent Process takes place usually during dark in the stroma of the chloroplasts, while covalent bonds of carbohydrates are produced by the Light Dependent. Thus, the species is an autotroph, meaning that it can obtain its own food from the conversion of light or chemical energy. [4]

Vascular Tissues – transports water and nutrients throughout the plant. Xylem and phloem are two different types of vascular tissue made of columns of specialized cells stacked on top of another, forming a complex system of tubes that extend perpendicularly from the root ends to the tip of the uppermost stem and across from the trunk to the leaves. The xylem generally conveys water and dissolved minerals within a plant, primarily from the roots upward. When xylem tissues mature, the cells die, leaving long conducting tubes. In addition to the transportation ability, the thick walls of the xylem buttress the plant. On the other hand, phloem is generally thinner and carries water and dissolved foods from the leaves throughout the plant. The vascular cambium, which is located between the xylem and phloem, functions to segregate the two tissues, and the source of stem cells that will eventually differentiate into one of them. [5]

Fibrous root system – unlike taproot root system, fibrous exhibits many branched roots. Root hairs not only increase the surface area of the roots but also operate to absorb nutrients and water out of the soil.

Stems – the main trunk of a plant, which impart structure support for leaves and transport nutrients and water. In Titan Arum, the stem is the corm that stores energy as well. [6]

Reproduction

All plants accomplish sexual reproduction. The reproductive cycle of the Titan Arum is, however, amusing. The Corpse Flower begins its life with the reproductive stage first before stepping into the vegetative stage, repeating these stages throughout its entire life span.

Reproductive stage –The inflorescence starts on emerging from the heaviest tuber in the plant kingdom, with 200 lbs, with the growth rate of approximately 4 inches per day. After few weeks, it is ready to receive the pollinators, such as flies, carrion beetles, and sweat bees. The pollinators are attracted to the coloration and stinking scent at its base, go into the unfurled spathe chamber (usually they stay in the chamber for few days), and any pollen that the insects are already conveying brush off on the female flowers. Interestingly, male flowers actually disperse their pollen on the next day the pollinators enter, rubbing on the pollinators, which then proceed to another flower while they are dusted with the pollen. Therefore, the result illustrates that the self-pollination of the Corpse Flower is prevented. The size of the inflorescence can disperse the scent over large areas, so thus, is the great factor to attracting the pollinators because the plants hardly ever grow in close to one another. The fruits of the species begin to mature inside the spathe chamber from the pollinated female flowers. When they are ripe, the spathe entirely shrinks displaying the bright scarlet fruits, which draw the attention of the avian, such as hornbills that consume them and scatter their seeds. [7]

Vegetative Stage – after blooming, the inflorescence of the plant dies back and in its place a single leaf appears, which in time reaches the size of a small tree, up to 20 ft tall and 15 ft across. The leaf is sleek green and shows many leaflets. [8] While in the vegetative stage, the leaf accumulates sugars and amasses them in the tuber. Therefore, the leaf can continually develop. Ultimately, the tuber turns inactive (the dormant stage) for about four months, and then a new inflorescence of the Titan Arum appears, entering the reproductive stage. The plant repeats these two cycles throughout its life. [9]

Ecology

Description

The native habitat of the species is the moist shaded rainforests of Western Sumatra, Indonesia on limestone hills. However, due to rain forest destruction, the Titans are listed as one of the vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Sumatrans are familiar with the name ‘bunga bangkai’, translated as ‘corpse flower’ owing to the extreme repulsive scent.

This magnificent flower was first discovered by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in Sumatra in 1878 while Beccari was traveling through the rainforest of Sumatra. The botanist, instead of returning empty-handed, collected the seeds of the plant, and later the seeds were given to a garden in England called Kew Gardens in 1889, enormously catching the public’s attentions. In 1926, as the Titan bloomed again, the fascinated visitors were so immense that the police was even called to control them. [10]

Currently, the flower can be seen in several countries, including USA (Milwaukee, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and so on), Germany, Australia, etc. Some people even keep them as house plants. Yet the Titans are threatened to be extinct as a result of:

  • Over-collection for agricultural ambitions
  • Habitat destruction, especially in rainforests in Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Ecology breakdown; decrease of pollinators and seed distributors
  • Vandalism of the green, etc. [11]

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References

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