Sex is Weird: Corpse Flower

Hello. I’m Seth, the newest member of Feed the Data Monster. I’ll be making a more formal introduction soon, but I wanted to start things off right: by talking about sex. I’m very interested in the subject of sexual reproduction across all forms of life. It’s actually something of a mystery why organisms devote so much energy (often dying in the process) to a mode of reproduction that only passes on half of their genetic material. I’ll write more about all of that another time. Right now I want to kick-off a regular series devoted to one central point: Sex is weird.

Today in Sex is Weird I will tell you why the United States Botanic Garden has smelled like a dead body. Among the plants housed there is Titan arum, the corpse flower. In order to exchange genetic material this plant produces one of the largest flowers in the world, and that flower gives off the odor of rotting flesh. The odor likely attracts carrion eating insects which carry the pollen from one flower to another. To learn more, check out the United States Botanical Garden


Titan arum . Photo credit: US Botanic Garden. wikimedia commons

Titan arum. Photo credit: US Botanic Garden. wikimedia commons

There you go. Giant flowers that smell like death help to move genetic material from one individual to another. Sex is weird.