The nearly eight foot tall Titan Arum, or Corpse Flower, housed in the H.F. Thut Greenhouse on the campus of Eastern Illinois University bloomed Wednesday evening. The endangered flower only blooms once every two years and smells of rotting meat. According to Greenhouse Manager, Steven Malehorn, the giant flower species originated in Sumatra, Indonesia. EIU’s corpse flower has been growing since 2001. Malehorn says that the odor emitted by the blooming flower can be smelled from quite far away.
The rotting meat smell is used to attract pollinators. Malehorn explained that in the corpse flower’s native habitat, it needs to be able to make itself noticeable somehow.
The corpse flower primarily relies on flies, beetles, and other carrion insects to pollinate it.
The first bloom occurred in 2008 after seven years of “vegetative growth.” During vegetative growth the plant will grow a single leaf at a time that could be up to 15′ tall, by 12′ wide. If the plant is content it its environment, it will continue to produce one leaf at a time, for about a year each, and will continue to grow. According to Malehorn, the plant is more likely to bloom into a flower under stress.
The flower will bloom for about twelve hours before going dormant and beginning the cycle anew. The greenhouse also contains three young clones of the corpse flower. Malehorn says that they will likely be given to other universities when they have matured.
The Thut Greenhouse, on EIU’s campus near 7th Street, will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday for viewing the Titan Arum during bloom. You can also view a live video stream of the bloom here!