One of Cornell’s famous corpse flowers is getting ready once again to unfurl its fetid bloom.
The plant nicknamed Wee Stinky, one of two flowering-sized titan arums in the living collection of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, is prepping for a dazzling reproductive effort to make itself big, hot and smelly.
Called a corpse flower for the putrid aroma unleashed when it flowers, the titan arum has evolved a reproductive strategy to lure pollinators with pungent signals akin to rotting flesh. Dark purple coloring, a sickly scent, blasts of heat and plumes of carbon dioxide are all deployed to resemble carrion favored by certain pollinator insects. It takes years for the plant to build up the necessary energy to put on such a macabre display, only to burn it all off in a few days before wilting back to a vegetative state.