Displaying items by tag: corpse flower
Hundreds of humans attracted to stench of Rotty Top; Hard Knox Wire performs autopsy on UT corpse flower phenom
This story was originally published by Hard Knox Wire.
“What I feel the most is excited from all the exposure that folks are getting of biology and the greenhouses,” said UT biology greenhouse director Jeff Martin. “I didn’t realize this many people would be interested, and it’s great. Hopefully, this will get people a little more interested in other types of plants.”
She came, she reeked, she conquered.
The corpse flower (or titan arum, to the biologists among us) finally bloomed early Thursday morning after two weeks of teasing its keepers — and the public — that it was about to drop its leaves and saturate its surroundings with the odor of decaying flesh.
Hundreds of visitors had already visited Rotty Top in the days preceding the rare event (the plant blooms at best once every decade), but on Thursday it seemed as though they were all returning at once. Shuttle buses carried curious fans from a nearby parking garage to the Hesler Biology Building on Circle Drive, and scores of people crowded around the titan arum’s enclosure to get a whiff of its infamous scent.
A live video stream was featured at the top of this article while “Rotty Top” was blooming, July 29-31, 2021.
Another article includes details about that particular plant and the event.
The corpse plant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has not bloomed in 20 years
The titan arum (Amorphophalus titanum), native to Sumatra, is remarkable for several reasons.
It is more often referred to by colloquial names, such as corpse flower, rotting corpse plant or carrion plant, because of the strong distinct odor it releases to attract pollinators when it flowers.
No other species of flowering plant has an unbranched inflorescence, or flower-bearing reproductive part, as large as titan arum. Unbranched means that all flowers grow from a single stem; a gigantic one in this case. A record height above corm (underground storage tuber) of 10.5 ft was measured at Bonn Botanical Gardens in June 21, 2013.
A seldom-seen corpse flower is about to burst forth in bloom following a 20-year sleep — presumably not in a casket and not at the Body Farm — at the Hesler Biology Building at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
A previous faculty member got the plant two decades ago, but this is its first blooming cycle, according to the News Sentinel. It has been nursed along by current greenhouse director Jeff Martin — in someone else’s office, of course. The plant only blooms about every 10 years, if not more infrequently.
Members of the public are invited to come partake of the odor and revel in sheer stank in the next several days.
“A 2010 study by Japanese researchers attributed the plant’s smell to a combination of chemicals that smell like cheese, sweat, garlic, decaying meat, rotten eggs and more,” according to the News Sentinel.
But it’s not just about the smell: The plant produces the world’s largest flower and is endangered in the wild. Pollen from this corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum — you can suss out the literal definition yourself) may be used to pollinate other endangered corpse flowers, which are native to Southeast Asia.
The odor is an evolutionary pollination mechanism to attract flies and other insects that are attracted to the smell of rotting flesh.