College of Arts and Sciences
Corpse Flower Closing After Bloom at WIU Biological Sciences Botany Greenhouse
September 13, 2011
UPDATE [September 14, 8:40 a.m. CT]
MACOMB, IL -- The third Titan Arum to bloom at Western Illinois University is gradually closing today, according to Jeff Hillyer, greenhouse manager. In a blog post, "Evening Pictures," Tuesday night, Hillyer uploaded photos of the Corpse Flower. He noted that this particular Titan was slower to open than the others and was still not fully open at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday [Sept. 13] night.
"It is producing quite the odor though," he noted in his blog post. "It is a much stronger odor than the previous two and has been described as having a cabbage like smell to it. The inside coloration of the spathe is also much darker than the previous WIU Titans. It looks almost like black velvet."
Hillyer said the Corpse Flower will close over the duration of the day.
The WIU Botany Greenhouse is open until 4:30 p.m. today [Wednesday, Sept. 14].
Visit the WIU Botany Greenhouse blog at http://wiubotanygreenhouse.blogspot.com/.
MACOMB, IL – A third Titan Arum or "Corpse Flower," a plant native to the equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, is blooming today in the Western Illinois University Biological Sciences Botany Greenhouse.
According to Jeff Hillyer, greenhouse manager, those who are interested in watching it bloom this afternoon and evening can do so by visiting the WIU Botany Greenhouse (located just south of Waggoner Hall) on the WIU-Macomb campus. Hillyer said he will keep the greenhouse open until midnight (Tuesday, Sept. 13) to accommodate those who want to see in person this special event. (For those who cannot come to campus, you can view the live UStream of it opening at www.ustream.tv/channel/wiu-corpse-flower.)
Hillyer said the Titan Arum is known as the "Corpse Flower" due to the blooms' odor, which smells like rotting meat.
This is the third Titan Arum to bloom at WIU since May 2010 (Titan #3 bloomed in June 2010, see "'Corpse Flower' Comes Alive June 29," and Titan #1 bloomed in May 2010, see "Rare Flower Blooms at WIU Greenhouse").
Hillyer keeps a blog that documents some of the interesting greenery he cares for in the greenhouse (see http://wiubotanygreenhouse.blogspot.com/). In a post earlier today (Sept. 13) entitled "Finally," he noted: "I expect it to take until 7, 8 or 9 p.m. today to fully open. The greenhouse will be open until midnight for anyone that wants to see this first hand."
Over the last two weeks, Hillyer has been watching "Titan #2" for signs that it will bloom. On Tuesday, Sept. 6 he posted that the slowing of the growth of WIU's third Titan was an indicator of the spathe (the sheathing bracts that enclose the bloom or "inflorescence") getting closer to opening.
"The inflorescence is composed of thousands of flowers. In its native environment, the Titan Arum is pollinated by carrion beetles and flesh flies, which are attracted to its foul odor," Hillyer said.
Hillyer said the Botany Greenhouse will resume its regular hours tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 14) and will be open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Background about the Titan Arum at WIU
The WIU Titans were initially acquired as seeds from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2002. Hillyer explained that one of Wisconsin's Titans, Big Bucky, was the ovule donor and the pollen donor was Mr. Magnificent from the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, FL. The seeds for both of these plants were collected in 1993 by James Symon in Sumatra while filming for Sir David Attenborough's BBC documentary "The Private Life of Plants." The WIU plants are among the first generation of plants cultivated in the U.S.
Titan Arum was first discovered in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari. He collected seeds, which were provided to England's Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, which recorded the first bloom of this species in cultivation in 1889. The first bloom of this species in the United States occurred at the New York Botanical Gardens in June 1937.
Posted By: WIU, University Relations
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