Max Thompson, professor of biology and greenhouse supervisor at Southwestern College, has announced that a rare event is going to occur inside the Southwestern College greenhouse. An Amorphophallus titanum, known as the titan arum or corpse flower, will bloom sometime next week.
“There are only a few, if any, each year in the United States that have one bloom. As you can imagine, we are terribly excited about this,” Thompson says.
Southwestern will have a camera set up and will stream video of the event. The web video feed can be seen here or by clicking the graphic below. (Windows Media Player is required.)
According to Thompson, The corpse flower is native to Western Sumatra in Indonesia. This plant gets its name from the odor that emanates from it when it blooms. The scent is the smell of a dead mammal. The odor attracts blowflies and carrion beetles which the plant uses to pollinate itself.
“It is a rare event to bloom this plant as it takes years for the corm to get large enough to produce a flower,” Thompson says. “The Southwestern College plant came from a corm from Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Fla. The corm was about 2” when we received it from the garden. Although we don’t know the exact size of it now, the last time we repotted, it weighed about 20 lbs. The world record for weight comes from Germany where a corm weighed 258 lbs.”
The flower typically opens in mid-afternoon and stays open all night, emitting the foul stench to attract flies and beetles to pollinate it. The spadix or center part of the flower only lasts about 24 hours.
The Southwestern College greenhouse will keep an update on the voicemail (620-229-6285). The greenhouse will be open when the plant blooms for the public to see. The greenhouse is located on the north side of campus behind the Beech Science building.
Southwestern College is a private institution granting undergraduate and graduate degrees and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. About 1,700 students attend classes at the main Winfield campus, at six professional studies sites in Kansas and Oklahoma, or online around the world.