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Cornell’s Titan arum ‘Wee Stinky’ poised to flower again

Plant Sciences major Patty Chan ’18 welcomes ‘Wee Stinky’ to the new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

Plant Sciences major Patty Chan ’18 welcomes ‘Wee Stinky’ to the new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

‘Wee Stinky’ – one of two flowering-sized Titan arums in the living collection of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory – is poised to flower again in the very near future. It will be the first Titan arum to flower in the new Conservatory, which re-opened last spring. And as a bonus, its sibling ‘Carolus’ stands nearby in its vegetative stage, its single leaf towering nine feet tall.

Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum, also known as corpse plant) are famous for producing the largest unbranched inflorescence (flowering structure) in the plant world – as well as producing a big stink. During their brief, two-day display, plants produce a variety of chemicals that mimic rotting flesh to attract carrion flies and beetles to assist with the plant’s sophisticated pollination strategy.  Learn more about the plant.

‘Wee Stinky’ – grown from a seedling provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 – first flowered in March 2012. About 10,000 people lined up to see the plant firsthand at the Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouse complex, while more than 500,000 checked on its progress via webcam. It flowered a second time in November 2014. Sibling ‘Carolus’ has flowered once, in June 2015.

When exactly will ‘Wee Stinky’ flower this time around?

That’s tough to predict precisely, but also part of the excitement. Based on previous flowerings, we currently estimate around October 15, give or take a few days. As flowering nears, growth of the spadix (the column-like structure in the middle of the plant) slows. But we never know for sure until late in the day when the skirt-like spathe surrounding the spadix starts to unfurl. Sign up for email updates (right column or bottom on mobile) and we’ll keep you posted.

How big will it get?

‘Wee Stinky’s’ corm weighed 65 pounds when planted in July.

CUAES greenhouse grower Paul Cooper plants ‘Wee Stinky’s’ 65-pound corm in July.

Last flowering, ‘Wee Stinky’s’ spadix grew to 76 inches tall. That was from a 50-pound corm – the underground tuber-like structure where Titan arums store their energy. This time, ‘Wee Stinky’s’ corm weighed 65 pounds when planted in July. So we expect it will grow considerably taller. You can check progress daily in the growth chart at The Spadix Speaks: Cornell’s Titan Arum Blog (right column or bottom on mobile). We plan to have a live webcam up and running at least a week ahead of flowering.

Can I come see ‘Wee Stinky’?

Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory

Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory

We’d love to have you.  The Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory is open to the public most weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. When flowering begins, we will extend visitor hours. Check the Titan arum or Conservatory websites for hours and visitor information.

The Conservatory is adjacent to Plant Science Building, 236 Tower RoadView map. The nearest public metered lot is the Peterson Lot at the corner of Tower Road and Judd Falls Road, across from Stocking Hall and the Cornell Dairy Bar.

Click image to download handout and lifecycle poster (.pdf)

Click image to download handout and lifecycle poster (.pdf)

How can I learn more?

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory houses one of several plant collections curated by the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, and is maintained by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Timelapse video: Carolus blooming

If you missed last week’s bloom — or would just like to see the whole thing — check out these videos:

View more timelapse videos or learn more about ‘Stinky Science’ on our YouTube channel.

So long Carolus

Carolus closing Thursday morning.

Carolus closing Thursday morning.

Carolus’s spathe continued to wane overnight. The plant was not pollinated and so will not set seed. But staff did collect pollen for future pollinations and to share with other Titan Arum growers.

Carolus will whither and go dormant for months. Then a single leaf will sprout from the underground corm as it goes into its vegetative stage. After several cycles of the vegetative stage, Carolus will likely flower again in the new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory on the south side of the Plant Science Building on Tower Road.

Meantime, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse staff are busily preparing plants for the move from Kenneth Post Laboratory greenhouses to the new conservatory.

Kenneth Post Laboratory greenhouses are now closed to the public.

If you would like to receive email updates to this blog so that you will receive notifications when the next flowering is imminent (and when you can view the time-lapse video of this flowering), submit your email address in the subscription form in the sidebar.

See you at the next flowering.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins gathers pollen from Carolus Wednesday morning.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins gathers pollen from Carolus Wednesday morning through a small window cut into the base of the spathe.

Still standing, but not so stinky

Carolus at dawn Wednesday, June 17.

Carolus at dawn Wednesday, June 17.

Carolus continues to stand strong on Wednesday morning, though the spathe is starting to wane. Tentative schedule:

Greenhouse OPEN to the public: Wednesday, June 17 — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitor information.

Stop back for updates.

Update: We’ll keep the greenhouse open to the public until 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Hours extended until 6 p.m. Tuesday

Carolus is still looking good. So Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses will remain open to the public until 6 p.m. Tuesday night. Stop by after work.

Visitor information.

Check back for updates.