Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The smelly flower with obscene name

If you had walked past the two rubbish bins in front of my house at night last week, you would not be able to savour the sweet fragrance of our Solandra Longiflora; even though they are blooming profusely. Instead you would be greeted by a pungent smell like that of rotting meat.

Don’t be alarmed. No crime had been committed. Neither had any animal been harmed. It’s just that this flower with an obscene name had just opened; and its stench was so strong that it had completely drowned out the fragrance of it’s neighbour.


Apparently the smell attracts insects which help to pollinate the plant


Do you know the name of this plant? Its common name is Corpse Flower or Elephant Yam. My Indian neighbour told me that it is a sort of yam which the Indians used for cooking. You can buy them in Serangoon Road. He told me the name in Malay, but unfortunately I have forgotten. But never mind. I am sure Chuck or YG is able to help out.

Below are more photos taken from a few months ago when the plant was still young.

Before I give you the answer, I should clarify that the big ‘flower’ is technically not a flower; but a leaf. Having little interest in Biology or Botany, I had quickly forgotten the explanation given by my son who planted this ‘beauty’ in the first place.

The name of the plant is Amorphophallus paenoiifolius. Amorphophallus is Greek for misshapen or deformed phallus (male organ).

13 comments:

yg said...

i don't know the malay name for it. word for word, elephant is 'gajah' and yam is 'keladi'. so, it would be keladi gajah. could it be senai kizhangu?

yg said...

the elephant yam is, in some way, similar to the stinkhorn fungus which i mentioned in this post here . they both use their foul smell to attract pollinators.

Anonymous said...

Chuck says,

Sorry Chun See, I don't know the Malay name for that plant, but wonder how it taste like...

mary said...

Hi Chun See, would you happen to know where to find old photo booths in Singapore? The kind that produces 4 different photos! They're sadly being replaced all over by the modern flashy kind that produces 4 identical photos.

Thank you :-)
Mary

jean said...

Its quite attractive in a curious sort of way.It reminds me of an overgrown red cabbage.
@ chuck - my late bro's army buddy confirmed with me that they were indeed in ITD Alpha Company like you but in the January 78 batch just before you.And a certain Sgt.Pow was there too!Averaged height,thick specs,loud voiced and always shouting "Alpha Company Fall In!"There was also an Indian Sgt who was slimey and weird.
Excuse me for going off topic LCS.

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Chun See as I reply to Mary on ITD...
If I can remember correctly , the Indian Sgt.is Sgt. Mano with a loud blooming voice and just about the same built as Sgt Pow. I also remembered our CSM - WO2 HUssien Aljunied, better known as the National Soccer Coach of Singapore in he 70's. Our OC was Capt. Amasha (Hope I got the spelling correct) and believe me, he is a very very good swimmer...

Chuck

Lam Chun See said...

Mary. Sorry don't know about the old photo booths.

Anonymous said...

Chun See, I checked with my Indonesian maid and she replied that Indonesian call it 'Talas Keledek' She also mentioned it is very common in Indonesia and sold in the market.
Chuck

peter said...

chun see
u got a good collections of plants. have u not considered turning your garden into a Balinese garden with pond, shrubs and flowers?

Lam Chun See said...

My garden like jungle.

gardenlab said...

I think the Japanese (or is it the Taiwanese or both?) uses this plant's tuber to make the popular jelly, konyaku. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi ,

Thsi si one of the vegiables used in Kerala India, you can find the detaisl in this blog i think http://aswathikasimadom.blogspot.com/2008_05_01_archive.html

Like tapiyoka we use the pice hiden under the mud as vegitabel also use the leaves for soem side dishes also

Thimbuktu said...

"Apparently the smell attracts insects which help to pollinate the plant"... which I understand the theory of memories of smell to attract different people to different odour, different fruits to different people like durians for instance.

Relationship of people to taste or smell has no right or wrong...its for us to understand how people have affinity to understand human relationship.