These flowers can produce heat!  The flowers maintain a temperature around 30–35 °C (86–95 °F)You maintain a body temperature of around 37 °C (98.6 °F) as do many warm blooded animals.  But there are some remarkable plants that also have thermoregulation!  The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) can produce its own heat!  You can click on the picture to see a larger view.

This lotus is also known as Padma and it plays an important role in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.  The flowers maintain a temperature around 30–35 °C (86–95 °F).

There are other magical plants that can produce heat.  Some of these themogenic plants have the ability to maintain the temperature of certain parts, especially the center of their flowers, up to 45°C (113  °F)!  The heat produced may be to help protect from tissue damage due to freezing temperatures.

Thermogenic plants are in ancient groups of seed plants including paleoherbs like some of the Nymphaeaceae (Water Lily) family and the Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family).  There are other plant families that have members with thermogenic abilities such as Arecaceae (Palms), Araceae (Arum Lilies or Aroids), Nelumbonaceae (True Lotuses), Aristolochiaceae (Dutchman's Pipe), Annonaceae (Custard Apples) and Cyclanthaceae (Panama Hat Palms).

The names of some of the plants indicate their odor such as the Eastern Skunk Cabbage and the Dead Horse Arum Lily.  The heat they produce may help to spread the fetid rotting odor they produce.  This attracts flies and beetles, their primary pollinators.  The Voodoo Lily (Typhonium venosum also known as Sauromatum venosum) shown in the picture below is another stinky but beautiful example.The unusual flower of this plant emerges before its large leaves.

If you live in North America, the most common example is the Eastern Skunk Cabbage or Swamp Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).  Note the binomial includes foetidus.  This means bad-smelling or having an unpleasant or fetid odor.  Plants with binomials that include the word "fetid" in one form or another generally smell similar to rotting meat or dung.  Their fragrance may be mild, or may only occur during short flowering seasons, or it may only be present in the roots.  Just be aware when you are selecting plants that those with foetida, foetidissima, foetidus, foetida, etc. will similarly display a malodorous trait.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage can be found from Quebec and Nova Scotia all the way west and south to Minnesota, North and South Carolina and Tennessee (where it is endangered and protected).  In the picture below, you can see where the emerging plant is able to melt the snow around itself.  Click to enlarge the picture if you'd like a better view.

Foetidus in its binomal is a clue to its fetid odor.

Plants are such amazing creatures!  Look for more fascinating articles in the PaganPath Wortcunning section about plants that talk and other magical behavior!

References & Resources

You might enjoy looking up some of the amazing thermoregulating plants in this list:

  • The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
  • The Voodoo Lily (Typhonium venosum also known as Sauromatum venosum)
  • Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
  • Panama Hat Palm (Carludovica palmata)
  • Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum)
  • Elephant Foot Yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius)
  • Dead Horse Arum Lily (Helicodiceros muscivorus)
--- "Heat production by sacred lotus flowers depends on ambient temperature, not light cycle" from the Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 49, No. 324, pp. 1213–1217, July 1998
by Roger S. Seymour (1) and Paul Schultze-Motel (1) and Lamprecht (2)
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
  2. Institute for Biophysics, Free University of Berlin, Thielallee 63, D-14195 Berlin, Germany
--- "Heat-producing flowers" from Endeavour, Vol., 21(3), 1997
by Roger S. Seymour (1 above) and Paul Schultze-Motel (1)
--- "Functional Coexpression of the Mitochondrial Alternative Oxidase and Uncoupling Protein Underlies Thermoregulation in the Thermogenic Florets of Skunk Cabbage" from Plant Physiology, February 2008, Vol. 146, pp. 636–645, | 2007 American Society of Plant Biologists
by Yoshihiko Onda, Yoshiaki Kato, Yukie Abe, Takanori Ito, Miyuki Morohashi, Yuka Ito, Megumi Ichikawa, Kazushige Matsukawa, Yusuke Kakizaki, Hiroyuki Koiwa, and Kikukatsu Ito, United Graduate School of Agricultural Science (Y.O., M.M., K.M.), and Cryobiosystem Research Center, Faculty of Agriculture (Y.K., Y.A., T.I., Y.I., M.I., Y.K., K.I.), Iwate University, Iwate 020–8550, Japan; and Research Institute of Bio-System Informatics, Tohoku Chemical Co., Ltd., Iwate 020–0022, Japan (H.K.)


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gacrwfrd's Avatar
gacrwfrd replied the topic: #2 14 Oct 2016 18:37
So cool, I did not know this at all. And I grow up around skunk cabbages. Thanks
cjachuff's Avatar
cjachuff replied the topic: #3 14 Jul 2018 05:04
Wow, this makes me want a few of these lotuses in a garden pond!! I'm sure they'd help keep the water warm enough for fish to survive, without the help of a heater! ^~^

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