Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Titan Arum, 11 PM

The Corpse Flower is fully open, and the smell is easily detectable throughout the greenhouse complex, and even outside, in spite of the vents being closed. Sulfurous, overcooked cabbage notes predominate, like the facilities at a rustic campground at the end of August, but there are definite fishy undertones, unpleasantly reminiscent of canned tuna.

In some A. titanum plants, the spathe really opens wide and reflexes, but all three times that this individual has flowered the spathe has been more upright and funnel-shaped. There is quite a bit of variation in this species, even among the subset of plants in botanical gardens. The color of the spathe and the spadix can also vary quite a bit from plant to plant; for example, there are yellow spadices, as with both mature plants at UConn, and also dark purple ones, like this fellow at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington.

There's still a steady stream of students, faculty, families and plant enthusiasts coming through the greenhouse. Doors will be open for another hour or so, or you can stop by tomorrow morning and watch the bloom close. It's unlikely that it will open again, and by the end of the week it will probably have collapsed.

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