Titan Arum at Cornell University
Cornell's towering titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), known commonly as the "corpse plant" and given the name "Wee Stinky" by a popular vote, attracted about 10,000 visits, including more than 3,500 on March 19 alone. Below, you will find time lapse video and photo, thermal imagery, stench emission measurements and more.
Time Lapse Photos and Video:
High-Angle, High-Resolution Video Time Lapse:
Two Day Photo Time Lapse:
—plus collapse of spadix three days later.
The Spadix Collapse:
On March 22, 2012. Don’t fret. Ph.D. candidate Gwynne Lim told me early that day that it was hollow and could go over anytime. “We went to the greenhouse early this afternoon and the appendix was ripping at the seams just above the male flowers,” says Lim. “It looks so sad.” View the 7-hour collapse in 30 seconds below or on YouTube.
- Huffington Post slideshow – Must see!
- Titan arum at Cornell University – Cornell Google+ gallery
- Cornell Daily Sun slide show – Article, too.
- Ithaca Journal slideshow – Great article too.
- More images via Google
‘Wee’ have a winner:
The votes have been counted and the Cornell Titan Arum now has a name: Wee Stinky — named for Wee Stinky Glen, a small stream running through campus. (The glen is no longer stinky. More about that under question #2 here.) The official results:
- Big Red 14%
- Uncle Ezra 33%
- Wee Stinky 53%
Andy Leed, manager of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences greenhouses for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, took a series of thermal images during the titan arum flowering. Below was taken Saturday 3/17/2012 at 8 p.m. Andy reported: “It doesn’t look like there’s any significant heating at this point.”
By Sunday night, after the spath opened, things had heated up. Here’s the base of the spadix:
Top of the spadix Sunday night.
The base of the spadix had cooled off some by Monday morning.
Top of the spadix had cooled off as well.
Viewing male flowers Monday night through portal cut into spathe to collect pollen.
What Made ‘Wee Stinky’ Stink – and When
From Gwynne Lim (3/21/2012):
1. Dimethyl disulfide and 2. Dimethyl trisulfide – garlicky, strong cheese, rotting meat.
3. Benzyl alcohol – sweet floral scent
4. Phenol – like Chloraseptic gargles
5 Indole – smells like mothballs
Titan Arum Pollination
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. Cultivated titan arums require hand pollination as the approximately 450 female flowers that ring the base of the column-like structure (spadix) are ready to receive pollen beofre the 500 to 1,000 male flowers above shed their pollen. Using pollen collected from another titan arum at Binghamton University, Wee Stinky was pollinated and we are on the lookout for seed production.
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.
Endoscopy Images – See Inside the Arum
From Kenneth Simpson, professor of medicine, Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who stopped by Friday and performed an endoscopy to view the inside of the inflorescence.
Here is the first batch of endoscopy photos from inside the corpse plant. The images were acquired with a prototype Karl Storz endoscope. (The vet school is a Beta test site.). Contact me by land line, pager or carrier pigeon if you need more plantoscopy. Cheers! Kenny.
Here’s a sample sequentially as the endoscope moved down the inflorescence.
Here are the stats on the arum’s growth: