Many flowers compete with one another to attract butterflies, birds and bees for pollination, but at least two species of flowering plants have enhanced their ability to attract insects in unique ways.

The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanium) is native to western Sumatra, where it grows in openings in rainforests. It is the largest unbranched flower in the world and can reach up to 15 feet tall. But this alone is not what makes the titan arum so special.

It is unwise to step in close to get a whiff of this enormous bloom, as the plant gives off a rancid odor reminiscent of rotting meat. It is sometimes known as the carrion plant or the corpse plant for this reason.

The plant has created this scent to attract flies for pollination. The rafflesia, which is native to southeastern Asia as well, is another plant that produces a rotting aroma to attract insects. The rafflesia has no stems, leaves or true roots — it’s basically one large flower.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: