WIU's "Corpse Flower" Titan 3 Appears in Audubon's Online Magazine
July 29, 2010
MACOMB, IL – When a Titan Arum blooms, it makes the news and the blogs because it is part of a relatively small elite group of such flowers that have bloomed in cultivation since the 1880s, according to Western Illinois University Greenhouse Manager/Gardner II Jeff Hillyer. It may also be because the plant is known as the "corpse flower," because the bloom's odor smells like rotting meat.
Western has had two Titan Arums bloom – one in May and one in June – and the latter is referenced in a "Photo Gallery: 'Corpse Flower' Comes to Life in Houston" blog in Audubonmagazine.org with an embedded time-lapse video produced by Western (see http://magblog.audubon.org/photo-gallery-‘corpse-flower'-comes-life-houston). The blog by Alisa Opar features "Lois," the corpse flower that recently bloomed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
"Being mentioned in the Audubon's online magazine is a pleasant surprise. The blooming of the Titans at WIU this year were fantastic events that we tried to share with as many as possible, and now even more are enjoying them through the Audubon," Hillyer said.
Native to the equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, the WIU Titans were initially acquired as seeds from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2002. Hillyer explained that one of Wisconsin's Titans, Big Bucky, was the ovule donor and the pollen donor was Mr. Magnificent from the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, FL. The seeds for both of these plants were collected in 1993 by James Symon in Sumatra while filming for Sir David Attenborough's BBC documentary "The Private Life Of Plants." WIU's four plants are among the first generation of plants cultivated in the U.S.
The Titan Arum bloom is actually an inflorescence, composed of thousands of flowers. In its native environment, the Titan Arum is pollinated by carrion beetles and flesh flies, which are attracted to the foul odor of the bloom, Hillyer explained.
Access a video captured from the live video stream of Titan #3 at www.ustream.tv/channel/wiu-corpse-flower.
For those interested in watching its growth progress in June, there are time-lapse videos posted on Western's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/WesternIllinoisU and also at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBZcPpR54Po and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQB0O_S7JOQ.
For more information on Western's Titan Arum plants, contact the WIU Botany Greenhouse at (309) 298-1004 or e-mail Hillyer at JL-Hillyer@wiu.edu. Hillyer's blog is at http://wiubotanygreenhouse.blogspot.com.
Photos of Titan #1 and #3 can be found at WIU's Visual Production Center's online photo database (http://photos.wiu.edu/lightbox) on "Academics" folder > College of Arts & Sciences > Biological Sciences > Titan flower.