Indonesia nature

Articles in ‘Indonesia nature’

The world’s smelliest flower – Amorphophallus titanum

February 2nd, 2011

Not only powerfully smelly, but also one of the biggest flowers in the world.  Shaped like a giant funnel (termed the spathe), out of which sticks a towering spike (the spadix), which inspired the plant’s Latin name – Amorphophallus titanum – a gigantic, misshapen penis.  Depending on the size of the underground corm – a kind of tuber – it can shoot up to 3 metres tall in a tremendous surge of energy, only to collapse in a few days.

In fact, rather than a single flower, the A. titanum is an inflorescence, a collection of unobtrusive flowers found on the spike.  Rather than using colour to attract pollinating insects, the plant generates a strong smell, compared to rotting fish.  The plant disseminates the smell more efficiently by heating up – the spike can reach human body temperature.  Being a rare flower in a dense rainforest habitat, this is a useful strategy for getting detected at a distance.

The plant is native to Sumatra, but has become very popular in botanical gardens worldwide, which vie with each other to produce the tallest bloom.

Amorphophallus titanum has many names – Voodoo Lily, Devil’s Tongue, Corpse Flower – and also the Titan Arum, invented by David Attenborough, who felt uncomfortable using its given name for his series the Private Life of Plants. Here he is in Sumatra, introducing us to one.

The largest flower in the world – Rafflesia arnoldii

January 29th, 2011

The largest flower in the world, produced by Rafflesia arnoldii, is a rarity, whose every flowering is a special occasion, a crowd-pleaser.  It also draws pollinating carrion flies by emanating a smell of rotting meat.  The Rafflesia arnoldii grows only in the most pristine rainforests of Indonesia, reaching an astonishing 1 metre in diameter.  The five “petals” are thick flaps, rusty red and mottled with white, reminiscent of a toadstool. They surround a gaping crater inside which the reproductive organs are found.

A parasite, Rafflesia arnoldii has no leaves, stem or roots, or chlorophyll, so relies on a host plant for food.  Read the rest of this entry

Severe earthquake predicted for Indonesia

October 5th, 2009 The earthquake which killed more than 1100 people in Padang in Sumatra, Indonesia last week may be just a hint of worse to come. Since 2004, geologists have been predicting more severe earthquake in the region, which could rip the sea floor apart, trigger a devastating tsunami and kill far more people. New Scientist