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Wee Stinky opening tonight

About 1 p.m. this afternoon, Wee Stinky’s spathe started pulling back from the spadix, the earliest onset for any of our flowerings here at Cornell.

So tonight is the night if you want to get a whiff up close, and we’re extending our hours.

The Conservatory will be open:

  • Friday until 9 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m

View livestream.
livestream

Titan arum to bloom in campus conservatory

For updates on ‘Wee Stinky’ visit the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory news feed.

One of Cornell’s two flowering-sized Titan arums — dubbed Wee Stinky for its putrid smell — is set to bloom for the fourth time. Rosemary Glos ’20 and greenhouse grower Paul Cooper measure Wee Stinky Dec. 7 at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Photo by Craig Cramer.

One of Cornell’s two flowering-sized Titan arums — dubbed Wee Stinky for its putrid smell — is set to bloom for the fourth time. Rosemary Glos ’20 and greenhouse grower Paul Cooper measure Wee Stinky Dec. 7 at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Photo by Craig Cramer.

CALS News [2018-12-11]:

The race is on.

One of Cornell’s two flowering-sized Titan arums — dubbed Wee Stinky for its putrid smell — is set to bloom for the fourth time.

The big question is, will the plant give its macabre display of smells, heat and color before students pack up and head home for the holidays and campus closes for the winter break?

“Probably,” says Paul Cooper, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse grower who cares for the plant in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory on Tower Road, adjacent to the Plant Science Building. “But it’s next to impossible to predict exactly when until a few days before flowering.”

Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum) produce the largest unbranched inflorescence (flowering structure) in the plant world. And they are famous for producing a foul stench resembling a rotting animal carcass when they bloom to attract pollinating flies and beetles, a gruesome display that earns these plants the moniker “corpse flowers.”

Predicting precisely when the plant will bloom is complicated by cooler greenhouse temperatures and lower light intensities than what the tropical plant is adapted to in its native Sumatra, where it is threatened by habitat loss.

“Low temperatures and light intensities will likely slow the growth of the inflorescence,” says Karl Niklas, professor of plant biology. “It’s like a chemical reaction that depends on having the right temperatures and light conditions to proceed optimally.”

As of Dec. 11, Wee Stinky stood 81 inches tall and was growing 2 to 3 inches daily. The plant reached 87 inches when it last bloomed in 2016. There is reason to suspect that it may grow taller this year: The underground corm — a structure similar to a flower bulb — that stores the plants’ energy increased in size considerably during the plant’s vegetative stage between flowerings. Carolus, the other Titan arum and Wee Stinky’s sibling, is currently in a vegetable stage, with its single leaf topping the rafters in the Conservatory.

Cooper’s skill in coaxing these plants to flower every two years or so under the controlled conditions in the Conservatory presents the opportunity to study the flowering behavior of this remarkable plant, said Niklas.

Titan arums typically start opening late in the day so that they are fully open and aromatic at night. During flowering, the plants reach internal temperatures of more than 100 degrees to create a chimney-like effect that wafts the pollinator-attracting stench far and wide. The shorter winter days may cause the blossom to start opening earlier in the afternoon and could cause the plant to burn itself out, shortening the already brief event that usually lasts just two days, said Niklas.

The Conservatory is open to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If the flowering happens before campus closes Dec. 21, hours will be extended into the evening to accommodate visitors. Otherwise, a stinkless flowering can be seen on a livestream available at the Conservatory’s website. You can also sign up for email updates to be notified when flowering commences.

The Titan arum is not the only chance to see a rare flower in bloom. Angraecum sesquipedale (also known as Darwin’s orchid and Star of Bethlehem orchid) is also in flower at the Conservatory. When Charles Darwin first observed the flower in 1862, he predicted there must be a species of moth with a proboscis capable of extending deep into the flower’s foot-long spur petal to reach the nectar reserves at its tip. That moth, named Xanthopan morganii praedicta (or “predicted moth”), was discovered in 1903.

The orchid and arums are just two of about 600 species from 144 different plant families and 347 genera on display in the Conservatory, which is the living collection of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. The Conservatory is maintained by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

 

Titan arum ‘Wee Stinky’ preparing to flower

For updates on ‘Wee Stinky’ visit the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory news feed.

wee stinky 20181104

One of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory’s two flowering-sized Titan arums is preparing to flower, likely before the end of the year.

‘Wee Stinky’ — the first of Cornell’s Titan arums to flower in 2012 — has broken dormancy. Cornell University Agriculture Experiment Station greenhouse growers expertly moved the pot holding the plant into the bench area at the north end of the Student House where it will flower alongside its sibling ‘Carolus,’ currently in its vegetative stage. (View video of the move below.)

When will ‘Wee Stinky’ open and emit its pungent aroma? It’s hard to say at this point. At just over 6 inches tall, it has a long way to go. The last time ‘Wee Stinky’ flowered in October 2016 its spadix stood 87 inches tall. And we’re unsure how the short days and low light levels will affect the progress of this tropical plant. Our current estimate is sometime in early to mid-December.  As we chart its growth, we’ll get a better idea.

The Conservatory is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop by to view the Titan arums and the 600 other fascinating plants that make up this living collection.

Learn more about Amorphophallus titanum | View time-lapse videos

Cornell Chronicle: Titan arum blooms outside for first time

Both the Cornell Chronicle and CALS News reported this week on Carolus’s historic bloom:

Carolus in full bloom at dawn August 8, 2017.

Carolus in full bloom at dawn August 8, 2017.

Summer breezes wafting through Cornell’s Minns Garden carried the aromas of fresh grass, notes of floral and, for a few days in August, something akin to rotting meat.

Yet the chance to experience that repugnant odor drew thousands of visitors to the garden near the Plant Science Building. The reason: Carolus, one of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), as the giant, smelly tropical plant also known as a corpse flower bloomed outdoors for the first time ever in a region outside of the tropics.

Carolus started its dramatic show Aug. 7, unleashing its mighty rotten-meat stench that, in the sweltering forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, attracts flies, carrion beetles and other pollinators looking for a snack and a place to lay eggs.

Coaxing the plant to bloom outside in the cool of an Ithaca summer takes a lot of nerve and a little luck, said Paul Cooper, the greenhouse grower for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES), who cares for Cornell’s two flowering-sized Titan arums.

Read the whole article.

Carolus waning. Carolus dancing.

Carolus continues to wane Friday morning.

Carolus continues to wane Friday morning.

Thanks to all who stopped by this week to visit Carolus blooming in Minns Garden (map) .

Carolus continues to wane, but will remain outside at least through the weekend if you’d like to take one last look. Soon, Conservatory staff will move the pot inside where the underground corm will remain dormant for a few months before putting out a single huge leaf to begin recharging the corm for next flowering.

Many visitors this week who had visited during previous Titan arum flowerings remarked how different the plant looked outside in a more natural setting. Another big difference: There’s no wind in the Conservatory. Outside, Carolus’s spathe was free to dance in the breeze.

 

Visit our Titan arum video playlist to view timelapse and educational videos from previous flowerings.