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Another Titan Arum Bloom
March 18, 2012 2:54 PM   Subscribe

'These plants, native only to Sumatra, bloom very infrequently (only 140 times in cultivation since 1889) and then only for one or two nights before collapsing. Until it opens, there’s no noticeable odor. After that there’s little doubt where the name “Corpse Flower” comes from.'
Tonight, Cornell University's Titan Arum is expected to bloom. Live feed here.
(previous blooms on the blue)
posted by womprat78 (51 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw an older lady and a small child holding their noses in the background.
posted by desjardins at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2012


[... HD stream] [... slightly different angle here] (... this is so interesting - just to watch the people and their reactions to the immanently blooming flower ...)
posted by Auden at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2012


There's a lot of hesitant sniffing going on.
posted by unliteral at 3:35 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nature: giving CSI plot ideas.
posted by polymodus at 3:39 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is the word "stench" falling out of usage? That would be too bad. It's a great word.
posted by longsleeves at 3:50 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a sign missing. The sign that says-

"Rules for viewing stinky plant: Please be aware that you are being watched by strangers on the internet, accordingly, please comb your hair and try not to look like an idiot, because you will hear about it tomorrow at work. If you are with someone other than your spouse or significant other, you might want to pretend you're alone. Also, do not drop your child in the plant. Thank you."
posted by HuronBob at 3:50 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's always amazing to watch a plant move. Makes me feel like it's thinking, "God dammit I'm trying to get laid here."
posted by cmoj at 3:52 PM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I got to see a corpse flower blooming at the University of Washington last year. It's a nifty plant. The spadix (the phallic part sticking up in the center) generates quite a bit of heat (helps the odor spread and makes it seem more like meat), and we took some interesting IR photographs of it. Part of the flower's strategy is to attract a bunch of insects (hopefully carrying pollen from other corpse flowers) to the base of the spadix where the female flowers are located and then trap them there. The next day, after the female flowers have stopped being fertile, it begins releasing pollen and then releases the insects to carry the pollen to another plant, thus preventing self-fertilization. It can be tricky to get the corpse flowers to produce seeds in a greenhouse because you need multiple plants flowering with the right timing.
posted by JiBB at 3:56 PM on March 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's a sign missing. The sign that says -

"Rules for viewing stinky plant: Please be aware that you are being watched by strangers on the internet, accordingly, please comb your hair and try not to look like an idiot, because you will hear about it tomorrow at work. If you are with someone other than your spouse or significant other, you might want to pretend you're alone. Also, do not drop your child in the plant ... "


.... yeah but I like the way they act without this sign. It's interesting (and, I don't know, comforting?)
posted by Auden at 4:00 PM on March 18, 2012


"The other thing about it is that it is called an Amorphophallus titanum, and I didn't think you could constantly refer to it like that on a popular show, so I invented a popular name – the Titan Arum – and everybody now calls it the Titan Arum, it's in all the books."
posted by unliteral at 4:00 PM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


We can't smell the internet, yet. But if we could, the Taco Bell advert in front of this live video feed would have a whole new flavour.
posted by ovvl at 4:07 PM on March 18, 2012


The other thing about it is that it is called an Amorphophallus titanum, and I didn't think you could constantly refer to it like that on a popular show

They should just anglicize the Latin - "giant misshapen penis"
posted by iotic at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yay for the Internet!
posted by carter at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2012


There was one in bloom at a museum in my city a few years back. It was funny to see people line up to smell something awful.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:35 PM on March 18, 2012


Sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust
posted by hal9k at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jeez, that pun was a real stinker, hal9k.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:58 PM on March 18, 2012


Boy, something really stinks in Ithaca.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:01 PM on March 18, 2012


My grandfather had one of these for years. I can't recall how he came by it, other than it was a gift. He overwintered it inside, and put it out in the summer. Wnen it bloomed, my grandmother said it attracted an obscene amount of flies.

For a long time, no one knew what it was, but someone must of realised it was unusual, because they eventually took it to the local botanical garden and cause quite a stir, eventually making it in,the news paper.

Sadly, when he died, no one thought about the treasure he had, and so it died too.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I should add, I saw the plant many times, but never saw it bloom. It only bloomed once in my lifetime, and no one realized how rare it was until after the bloom was over.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2012


Boy, something really stinks in Ithaca.

Far above Cayuga's waters,
There's an awful smell...
posted by BrashTech at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great, someone in the the Ag school has been playing with the Necronomicon again. What part of "Do not call up that which ye cannot put down" do they not understand? I'm off to investigate. Humanity's last chance may be to throw this thing into a gorge before it becomes too powerful. WISH ME LUCK
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Checking in every few minutes. Not sure what to expect...

- This must be what slut-shaming is to the plant world.

- Someone's going to lose a camera or a kid. They're peering in like its Marsellus' briefcase.

- Needs a fast-forward button to the money-shot.

- If Professor Busy Whiskers takes one more measurement while coming so close as to almost kick the danged thing over? Then yes, please have it release right then and there.

- Get your flash mob on: Instruct every fifth student in line to sneak one while Mabel's checking her point n shoot.

- She said "Kiss me where it stinks" but I didn't have enough gas to make it to Cornell.
posted by hal9k at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I take it the stench hasn't really been released yet. Otherwise that guide must have a nose of steel.
posted by Kattullus at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2012


It's open!!! Wow!
posted by blue t-shirt at 6:19 PM on March 18, 2012


Thought it was going to be about another local stankflower.
posted by BinGregory at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2012


The live feed right now is clustered with lots of people... including one family getting the kids to pose in front of the corpse flower.

G-ddamnit. Just when I thought I was giving my son a sufficiently weird childhood. BABY, SCREW BEDTIME, WE'RE TAKING A ROAD TRIP.
posted by sonika at 6:31 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish we could see more of that beautiful deep purple on the inside of the bloom.
posted by sunnichka at 7:36 PM on March 18, 2012


When I lived in Minneapolis my roommate had a relative to this flower. For 4 years it never bloomed. Thing still stank all the time. You had to get close, but it was like rotten hamburger left in old dishwater. He used to get prospective dates to put their noses in it. I always warned them, but they did it anyway. This was one of my roommate's many versions of foreplay. I used to enjoy the expressions on these people's faces, and figured they deserved what they got. They'd been warned. Who was there to warn me when I fell for it? The only difference between me and these people was I wasn't ever going to sleep with Steven.

The mystery is how this man ever managed to get laid using the relative of a corpse flower.

I'm going to go make up more believable stories now...like the time I wiped blood off a unicorn horn.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:50 PM on March 18, 2012


This has been a fascinating exercise in people-watching over the last few hours, but now I'm compelled to shout "WHAT PART OF 'Please be careful not to disturb the plant or the photographic equipment' DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 8:10 PM on March 18, 2012


I wish we could see more of that beautiful deep purple on the inside of the bloom.
Ohhhhhhh it's unfolded even more now, finally starting to be really visible to the camera. How striking.
posted by sunnichka at 8:17 PM on March 18, 2012


but now I'm compelled to shout "WHAT PART OF 'Please be careful not to disturb the plant or the photographic equipment' DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

The plant heats up. Those people are trying to feel the radiance, and there are a couple of grad students who are hovering to prevent them from touching some dangling instruments.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:38 PM on March 18, 2012


They have another Amorphophallus titanum off-camera in its "vegetative state": One single very large leaf that looks like an entire tree. Here's one on Flickr.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:44 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where's everybody gone?
posted by unliteral at 9:00 PM on March 18, 2012


They closed the building at 11:00pm. People will be back in the morning.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:07 PM on March 18, 2012


There's someone there doing sciency stuff now.
posted by unliteral at 9:08 PM on March 18, 2012


Right now it's the Overworked Graduate Student After Midnight Cam, which I am watching with sympathetic schadenfreude. She(?) is assiduously avoiding eye-contact with the cameras; if only one could avoid nose contact with the noisome stench.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:23 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Overworked Graduate Student After Midnight Cam

Yeah, baby. Sniff it. SNIFF THAT STINKY STAMEN YOU LOVE IT you saucy little red shirted minx!
posted by The otter lady at 9:28 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


NOOO she turned the light out! Dammit!
posted by The otter lady at 9:30 PM on March 18, 2012


Is the word "stench" falling out of usage? That would be too bad. It's a great word.

I can't recall where I heard or read about this, and I do hope it's true, because it's one of my favorite language-history things. It may be complete bollocks, though.

English goes through words for smells at a pretty rapid clip. We keep coming up with or adopting new words for pleasant or at least non-offensive smells, and they eventually shift into referring to nasty ones.

Stench, reek, stink, odor, even smell (as in 'what's that smell?') -- these didn't begin life with negative connotations, but gained them over time. Presumably the future will bring the same infamy to smell-words that currently have a positive meaning, like aroma or scent.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:34 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want one. And I will call it Audrey.

And it will eat people who grope it with their dirty hands, and it will also eat smart-arsed kids who stand in front of the camera and wave 44 times in 5 minutes.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 10:44 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. Very cool they are streaming it. Also cool there was apparently a long line to see it - very 19th century, somehow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:04 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The scientist lady is in the room on her own now, and has the lights dimmed. She keeps turning away from it to do something. Do not turn your back on it!
posted by panaceanot at 11:11 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember this flower (I think) from the Guinness Book of World Records. The few memories I have of the book are:

1) A man smoking hundreds of cigarettes
2) A guy with curly horrible meter long fingernails
3) Obese bearded twins riding mini-motorcycles
4) The corpse flower.
posted by benzenedream at 12:04 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I grow a lot of cacti/succulents and there are lots of plants that have carrion/fecal odours because they rely on flies as pollinators. My favourite is Senicio articulatus (candle plant) [ 1, 2] because it is weird, attractive, has tiny little flowers on long bracts and the smell is quite strong but very localized. When it flowers I put it out in the shared hallway outside our flat and I like to think that everyone who walks past looks at their mates and thinks "You farted".

It is also a fun plant to give people cuttings of without telling them about the flower scent.
posted by srboisvert at 3:16 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man! 10 minutes until sunrise! I'm kinda excited to see what the flower looks like now.
posted by Kattullus at 3:59 AM on March 19, 2012


Also cool there was apparently a long line to see it - very 19th century, somehow.

Very Ithaca, anyhow. :)
posted by aught at 5:52 AM on March 19, 2012


Looking at it right now. Doesn't smell as bad as I thought.
posted by zamboni at 6:07 AM on March 19, 2012


Oh hey, they have sound now! They are pollinating the flower.
posted by Kattullus at 6:13 AM on March 19, 2012


Apparently they're making sure that they're using the right kind of pollen so that they don't accidentally spawn strange hybrids that could be unnatural monsters. I'm sad that this project wasn't given over to Cornell's Department of the Mad Sciences.
posted by Kattullus at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


We tried to go at 10pm at night and got turned away because they were closing at 11pm and there was an hour-long line. There were people still swarming in behind us. The one fellow said it was all right to be turned away because he had already seen the flower 4 times that day.

It is corpse plant MANIA here in Ithaca. First one to print and scent commemorative t-shirts is going to make the bucks.

Worth-noting that it is pretty rare that whole families are out on the town after 10pm. Some combination of the onset of spring break, unseasonably warm weather, and and the geeky bravado of sticking your head in exquisitely rare stank made it the must-do event of the season, possibly even bigger than dragon day.
posted by ioesf at 9:25 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


David Attenborough gets up close and personal with Amorphophallus Titanum
posted by Len at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2012


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