Corpse Flower Diaries

Photograph by Kathy Willens/AP

I first became aware of the amazing Amorphophallus titanum 4 years ago during a “bloom watch” of a Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses specimen at Cornell University.  At the time the concept of a “Greenhouse Cam” was completely new to me, and I followed it, and the science behind the study of the plant, with fascination. Despite the rarity of the flower, a handful have bloomed within the past several years, the most recent being at the New York Botanical Garden.

All that said, the Corpse Flower by nature is the botanical version of a “comedic straight man” in the set up of story-based jokes. (For example, the scientific name means “giant misshapen phallus”.) Continue reading

Horticultural Midwifery

Photo: Robert Barker / Cornell University

At risk of being labeled a “horticultural geek” I feel compelled to continue Audrey‘s story.  (Although I surely should stop calling the plant by that name, but once again, I can’t seem to help myself.)

Most plants in cultivation require human pollination in order to remain genetically viable.  The Titan Arum is no acception.  In fact, this plant actually can’t self pollinate because the 450 female flowers that ring the base of the column-like structure (spadix) are receptive days before the the 500 to 1,000 male flowers above them are ready to  shed their pollen. (Even in botany females mature earlier than males!) Continue reading

“Audrey” Is Open!

Last week I posted about an upcoming blessed event at the Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses at Cornell University.

Due to the 9.5 hour time difference between US Eastern Standard Time and India Standard Time I wasn’t always able to watch the “Greenhouse Cam” while it was filming, but I checked in whenever there was overlap.

You can tell from the looks on people’s faces, it’s really starting to stink.

What a quote to wake up to!

Continue reading

Humongous, Malodorous and Rare


It’s big. It’s green. Its growth is rapid. And even before it actually blooms it easily brings “Audrey”, the plant from The Little Shop of Horrors to mind. An extremely rare titan arum, also called the corpse plant, is expected to bloom at the Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses at Cornell University this week.

Titan arum, also known as Amorphophallus titanum, is a plant that grows in the wild only in the rainforests of Sumatra and rarely blooms in cultivation. Many universities and botanical gardens have specimens, but there have been approximately only 140 such cultivated blooms in recorded history.   Continue reading