Smells Like Content

The smelly corpse flower, also known as Wee Stinky, has bloomed here at Cornell!

It was in full bloom between 10pm and 2am last night, which means it was at its peak stink then. As of this morning, its spadix was starting to wilt, and the smell was growing ever fainter. I missed its first bloom in 2012, but I was glad to have gotten the chance to see it this time around. There is nothing “wee” about this plant, by the way.

The Titan Arum at Cornell University on November 20, 2014 (Photo Credit: Kristin Hook)

The Titan Arum at Cornell University on November 20, 2014 (Photo Credit: Kristin Hook)

The Titan Arum's nether regions (Photo Credit: Kristin Hook)

The Titan Arum’s nether regions (Photo Credit: Kristin Hook)

So why the big stink?

For one, this plant has the largest inflourescence in the world. It can reach above ten feet!

Its blooming is an extraordinary event to witness because they do so rather infrequently. It requires 7-10 years before blooming in a greenhouse, which is just about right given that the seed was planted here at Cornell back in 2002. If you want to see them in the wild, you’d have to hop on a plane over to Indonesia.

Even more incredible is its repulsive smell. Well, repulsive to us. It mimics the smell of a rotting carcass to attract its pollinators, which includes beetles and flies that typically eat decomposing animals. To make the smell spread further, its tip heats up to nearly 100ºF during its bloom.

Oh Amorphophallus, you’re a hot, stinky mess, but we love you anyway.

You can check out the live cam here. And here is a really cool time-lapse video of its 2012 bloom.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Enemies Like This | Animal Behavior Research Oddities

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