A day and a half compressed into 30 seconds …
When will a Titan Arum bloom again at Cornell? Hard to know for sure. But greenhouse grower Paul Cooper previews what might be in store while planting the corm of Wee Stinky’s sibling. Watch video:
Visit the Cornell Titan Arum YouTube channel to learn more about the science behind these stinky plants.
The next time Wee Stinky flowers, it will be in a new home.
During its formative years, the Titan arum was lovingly cared for in the old Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory on the south side of Plant Science Building. Built by greenhouse architects Lord & Burnham Co. in 1931 for Liberty Hyde Bailey, the first dean of the College of Agriculture and a prominent palm taxonomist, the facility had deteriorated and was closed in 2010. The entire Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium plant collection was moved temporarily to the Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouses, where Wee Stinky first flowered in 2012.
The new conservatory, located on the same spot as the old one, is scheduled to be finished in April. The plant collection — used to support engaged learning in the plant sciences — should be returned by early summer.
The structure will feature:
- An internal vestibule/air lock to provide more inviting access from Tower Road.
- Higher sidewalls than the old conservatory to accommodate taller plants.
- Two compartments with beds in the north compartment and in-bed plantings in the south compartment.
- A meandering walkway in the south compartment to simulate an under-canopy forest trail.
- Computerized controls to better manage environmental conditions and conserve energy.
- A fog system to provide humidification and evaporative cooling.
- An automatic moveable shade to eliminate whitewash application in summer and retain heat in winter, reducing heat loss by 30 to 40 percent.
- Hot water heating to replace steam heat for better temperature control and energy savings.
- Larger vents for better cooling without motorized fans to reduce noise in the greenhouse.
… this time around.
Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses will be closed to the public after 4 p.m. today.
To stay abreast of Titan Arum news at Cornell, please subscribe to the email updates in the right column.
Thanks to all who visited — in person and via the webcam. See you again next time.
Thursday morning, Plant Biology PhD candidates Gwynne Lim and Kyle Martin and greenhouse grower Kendra Hutchins hand-pollinated Wee Stinky.
Martin cut a small window through the rind-like tissue at the base of the spathe (much like carving a pumpkin) for better access to the female flowers at the base of the spadix. They dusted the receptive female flowers with pollen collected from Wee Stinky the last time it flowered in March 2012 and stored at -80 Celsius to help maintain its viability.
They taped the hunk of rind back into the window when they were finished to help maintain moisture levels inside the chamber.
Titan Arums do not naturally self-pollinate. Because the male flowers don’t shed their pollen until after the female flowers on the same plant are no longer receptive, such unions are separated by time. By artificially self-pollinating the plant, researchers hope to find out if there is also some genetic or chemical barrier that prevents this species from ‘selfing’.
Later in the day when the female flowers were no longer receptive, male flowers began to shed their pollen. Students and growers harvested a bumper crop to store and share when other researchers and institutions need Titan arum pollen for cross-breeding.