Skip to main content

Carolus looking good — and still stinky

We weren’t sure how Carolus would respond to cool Ithaca temperatures. But the spathe unfurled fully and the Titan arum continues to emit its carrion-like odor to attract pollinators. Stop by Minns Garden (map) today for an up-close look — and smell.

An early morning photo shoot.

An early morning photo shoot.

Carolus getting stinky

It’s not as powerful as inside. But Carolus is definitely starting to stink and draw in flies. Spathe has continued to unfurl.

A peek inside.

A peek inside.

Carolus opening tonight

Carolus this afternoon, just minutes before starting to open.

Carolus this afternoon, just minutes before starting to open.

A little before 4 p.m. this afternoon, Carolus started showing signs that tonight might be the night. Now, we’re confident that it is.

We’re anxiously watching to see whether or not it will bloom with the same vigor that our Titan arums have bloomed inside the controlled confines of the Conservatory and Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses during previous flowerings. Or have the chilly Ithaca temperatures (compared to Sumatra) taken its toll on Carolus’s energy reserves. Time will tell whether or not the spathe will unfurl fully and how the stench will compare with earlier flowerings.

We’re also anxious to see what carrion-loving pollinators will be attracted by Carolus’s odor.

Stop by Minns Garden to join the fun. Map.

Parking on campus is restricted most weekdays during the day. But most lots near Minns Garden are unrestricted after 5 p.m. Please observe parking regulation signs.

During the day, the nearest public metered lot is the Peterson Lot at the corner of Tower Road and Judd Falls Road, across from Stocking Hall and the Cornell Dairy Bar.

Carolus less than an hour later, with the spathe pulling back from the spadix.

Carolus less than an hour later, with the spathe pulling back from the spadix.

Carolus getting close

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse grower Trey Ramsey measures Carolus at 73.5 inches Sunday morning.

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse grower Trey Ramsey measures Carolus at 73.5 inches Sunday morning.

After more than a week of robust 3- to 4-inch growth daily, Carolus’s has slowed down over the last two days to 2 inches or less. (View growth chart.)

That’s a good sign, along with changes in coloration, that flowering will come soon — possibly early this week.

Subscribe to email updates (right column or below on mobile) if you’d like to be notified when we announce that blooming is imminent.

Carolus still going strong

carolus in minns

Over the last week, Carolus has grown 20 inches and now stands 56 inches tall in Minns Garden (map). And the towering Titan arum is still adding about 3 inches a day.

The last time Carolus bloomed in 2015 in the Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouses, it peaked at 76 inches tall.

When, exactly, will Carolus unfurl its spathe and begin emitting its pungent odor designed to draw in flies, beetles and other pollinators attracted by the prospect of finding a rotting animal carcass? That will be even more difficult to predict this time around due to Carolus being outside the controlled environment of a greenhouse.

But there are signs to look for, based on previous indoor flowerings.  A few days before peak, growth will begin to slow and the spathe will begin to show some reddish tinges. Then when the day arrives, late in the afternoon the spathe will start to pull away from the spadix and the show is on.

Hopefully. Even when flowering inside a cozy conservatory, Titan arums at other institutions have occasionally been known to simply run out of energy and never fully open. We’re prepared for that eventuality, as well. Either way, Carolus is already a showstopper in the garden.

If you’d like to be notified when Carolus starts to open, please sign up for email updates (right column or below on mobile).

Carolus stands 56 inches tall in Minns Garden on July 31.

Carolus stands 56 inches tall in Minns Garden on July 31.