Update 12:15 p.m.: Pollination was completed this morning. No more audio on livestream.
Update 10:10 a.m.: The Department of Plant Biology graduate students doing the pollinating are Gwynne Lim and Monica Ramirez Carvalho, along with Ha Nguyen, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.
Update 9:52 a.m.: Researchers have been hand-pollinating this morning. They may return later and explain the procedure.Tune in to the high-quality livestream to watch with audio. (Leave the volume up and you’ll know when they’re back.)
Update 9:24 a.m.: Tune in to livestream with audio.
Hand pollination of the titan arum is tentatively schedule for 9 a.m. Monday morning. The reason the plant requires this procedure is that the approximately 450 female flowers that ring the base of the column-like structure (spadix) are ready to receive pollen now, but the 500 to 1,000 male flowers above them won’t shed their pollen until later.
The plants cannot self-pollinate. In the wild, insects attracted by the plant’s odor bring pollen from other plants that flowered earlier to fertilize the female flowers.
Plants in cultivation are dependent on people to fertilize the female flowers so the plant can produce seeds. Researchers collect the pollen and store it to be used on other plants. We’ve had offers from researchers at Binghamton University and elsewhere to share their pollen.
Pictures below are from Andy Leed, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences greenhouse manager, of Laurie Kasperek collecting pollen from the titan arum at Binghamton University. Click on images for larger view.