Today we will consider the Rafflesia, the worlds largest flowering plant. The rafflesia is found in equatorial rain-forests, particularly in Borneo. As well as being well known for being the worlds largest flowering plant, it is perhaps more well known for producing an extremely bad smell.The smell of its flowers have been likened to decomposing flesh. Unsurprisingly, this bad smell attracts flies which attact flies as a means of polinating other plants.
The smell is caused by a mixture of compounds but our smelly sulfur friends are resoponsible for some of these compounds. Sulfur containing compounds that have been identified are dimethyl disulphide (CH3 – S – S – CH3) and dimethyl trisulphide (CH3 – S – S – S- CH3). 1
As with yesterdays example, skunk odour, these compounds are relatively non polar which therefore means that although they have relatively high molecular masses, they are easily vapourised and are volatile.
Tomorrow, we will look at another smelly plant, Skunkvine.