Phew, what a smell!
A dramatic, rare plant spent about 20 hours emitting its characteristic stench Saturday and Sunday in the greenhouse at the Anheuser-Busch Ecology and Conservation Complex at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Known as “Titan Arum,” the plant generated more than 13,000 online visits to a webcam installed in the greenhouse and more than 300 in-person visits.
Titan Arum, whose scientific name is “Amorphophallus titanum,” is the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence. In the wilds of its native Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia, the blooming plant mimics the odor of a decaying carcass and is then pollinated by carrion flies and beetles. Kathy Upton, research specialist and greenhouse manager, has tended the plant for the past 14 years after receiving seeds from the late physician and plant collector Dr. James Symon.
“This plant is unpredictable and fascinating,” Upton said. “You never know when it will bloom. When it finally happens it’s really exciting. It has so many interesting features — from its odd shape and stinky odor to its giant size and ability to heat itself up to above room temperature.”
The plant bloomed here in 1998 and again in 2001. The current flower bud cultivated by Upton is the third plant to produce a flower from the original seed batch. The plant was nicknamed “Jim the Triton Titan” in honor of Symon and the UMSL athletic teams. Click here to download a story about Jim that was published Monday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Adobe Reader is required.)
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=76