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Rare “Corpse Flower” set to bloom at the U of M

January 29, 2016

WHERE: University of Minnesota St. Paul campus - 1534 Lindig St., St. Paul, MN 55108
WHEN: The week of February 1. Check the website for status updates.
PUBLIC HOURS: 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
TIME LAPSE: http://z.umn.edu/corpseflower

For the first time in seven years, the University’s Titan Arum, or “Corpse Flower,” is about to make its malodorous appearance. The notoriously noxious plant, native to Sumatra’s equatorial rain forests, makes a big impression reaching up to six feet tall and emitting a scent often likened to “rotting meat.”

“Botanical gardens around the world build entire festivals around this single plant,” said Conservatory Curator Lisa Aston Philander. “Tens of thousands of visitors show up just to inhale this awful ‘carrion’ smell.  Additionally, this is a thermogenic plant that  warms itself, to temperatures comparable to humans, to allow the odor to volatilize. In essence, the warmer it gets, the more stinky it is, and the scent changes over the estimated 48 hours that the plant is in bloom.”

The College of Biological Sciences Conservatory will be open for public viewing (and smelling) of the Corpse Flower beginning February 1.

In its native habitat, the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) inflorescence uses its strong smell to cut through the riot of scents competing for the attention of the sweat bee, which pollinates the Corpse Flower. The bees can smell the plant for miles away. The plant produces a single leaf, resembling a small palm tree, that lasts up to a year. When the underground corm has stored enough energy, the leaf dies back and the corpse flower emerges.

Typically, the Corpse Flower blooms for only a few days before retreating into dormancy -- until it’s ready to strike again. Our titan arum has not bloomed in seven years!  For more information and a link to the live stream, visit the Conservatory’s Corpse Flower page.

The College of Biological Sciences Conservatory
The Conservatory houses the most diverse collection of plants in the region with more than 1,200 species. This living encyclopedia provides researchers, students and the public with access to plants from around the world -- including many rare, endangered and invasive species -- displayed in six themed rooms.  Nearly three dozen faculty and 40 teaching assistants serve 1,600 students each year. More than 50 school groups visit the collection annually. For more information, visit the Conservatory website.

 

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