This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

 
Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 7/1/1999

A Giant of Surprises

 From the lush rain forests of Indonesia comes the titan arum. This plant flowers every few years, but when it does, what a sight! In 1998, a titan arum flowered at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Florida. Over 5,500 people came to see it.

The titan arum begins life as a seed. It puts out a leaf and grows a thick, fleshy root called a tuber. The single leaf can grow to be more than 15 feet high. It has a long stalk, and a lot of leaflets at the top, which makes it look like a small tree. The leaf lasts only one season. It dies, and then another one grows the next season.

Each year, the tuber gets bigger as it stores more energy for the plant. But when the tuber is big enough—maybe weighing 20-40 pounds—it puts out a special leaf called a spathe. It looks almost like an ear of corn, except this leaf will reach a height of around six feet. The base of the spathe is very thick, like the rind on a watermelon.

When the leaf opens, it reveals two surprises. One is that the leaf is red on the inside. The other is a tall tube called a spadix. Around the base of the spadix, almost hidden by the spathe, are rings of tiny flowers. There are around 2,000 yellow male flowers, and around 700 purple and pink female flowers.

Scientists call the whole thing—spathe, spadix, and flowers—a compound flower, or inflorescence (IN-floor-RESS-sense).

To pollinate the flowers, insects will have to transport pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. This has to be done as soon as possible. To pull this off, the titan alum reveals one more surprise—the stinking odor of rotting flesh. This earns it another name: the corpse flower. The smell comes from a chemical reaction inside the spadix. The odor attracts insects that like to feed or lay their eggs on dead meat. Their curiosity brings them close enough to pollinate the flowers.

After only two or three days, the spathe wilts and the spadix falls over. The pollinated flowers will develop into seeds that grow into more of these amazing plants.

By producing the tallest compound flower known to man, the titan alum has earned its place in the record books. But best of all, we can think God for the titan alum’s wonderful surprises.



Copyright © 1999 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
U.S.A.
Phone (334) 272-8558

http://www.apologeticspress.org

Web Store

Explorer Series 7: The Church

This seventh installment of Explorer Series is for fifth and sixth graders to learn about the Church that Jesus came to Earth to establish. Students will learn about how and when the Church was established, who it includes, and how it should function (amo

Featured Audio

Listen

Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio