Steamy Secrets of the Carrion Flower

Steamy Secrets of the Carrion FlowerMost people would assume that a plant that is about 3 meters high and smells like a rotting corpse would have trouble attracting attention.

The carrion flower has the largest flowering head in the world. It has had to make some amazing adaptions to attract its pollinating insects. The specific behaviour of this flower has only come to light with the help of serendipitous TV recording.

Wilhelm Barthlott from the University of Bonn in Germany says, “The film crew was using very strong back-lighting and suddenly we saw smoke rising up along the flower’s central column. We thought the plant was on fire.”

As it turned out this was not real smoke but steam, and it coincided with the the waves putrid stench coming from the flower. “We had wondered before why one moment the flower would stink like a dead monkey, and a little while later there would hardly be any smell. It never occurred to us that there was cyclic odour production.”

With the help of infrared cameras they found out that waves of heat were traveling up the flower until the tip reaching temperatures above 36 celsius before releasing the steam.

[Via: NewScientist]

Steamy Secrets of the Carrion Flower was last modified: January 5th, 2009 by admin
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