titan arum 2001
some quickly tossed together titan arum pictures and links
a titan arum slide show | titan arum 2002 | titan arum 2004 | titan arum 2005
- seeds forming (early july, 2001)
- wilted 2
- wilted 1
- titan arum
- close up
- close up 2
- medium shot
- with plastic over it
amorphophallus titanum -
at the uw-madison botany department greenhouse -
history, pictures, time-lapse movie, etc (some of these links may not still work):
or a quicktime movie: http://www.geology.wisc.edu/%7Epbrown/arum.htm
UW-Madison Department of Botany - http://www.botany.wisc.edu/
the email i sent out:
i went to see the titan arum on thursday may 31, 2001. it was a huge pale green and dusky purple bud. the room was filled with intense quiet expectation, from the people and the plant.
it bloomed (the spathe opened) in the afternoon of june 7. i saw it in the evening and it made me feel kind of sick. it really smells just like rotting fish. it smells like when you have a big fresh fish dinner and throw the heads & bones etc. in the garbage can and then, after a couple of warm sunny days, you go back and lift up the garbage can lid. plus swarms of flies were buzzing and crawling around it. the huge red lip of the flower was a high traffic zone for flies. some kid had a gas mask on, and people were chuckling, but it was a good idea.
they were pollinating it when i was there (pollen in a plain old #10 envelope, dabbing it on with a q-tip. i think it was fed-exed in,) & when the guy drew his hand back out of the flower, it was covered with fly eggs. they later cut a hole in the base of the flower and pollinated it there. i love the way they have a picture of the pollen donor, a flower that recently bloomed in florida, up in front of the plant's pot, a picture of its sweetheart. the flower was amazing, though. huge; an entity very different from anything i've ever been near.
in the morning on june 8 it didn't smell as strong and the flower had closed up slightly during the night. it still looked bigger and more ruffled than the bud. there was a big clear plastic cover on the flower, measuring gases it gave off, but i took a few pictures anyway. later in the morning two people said they saw me on the web cam. i've seen a few people i knew, too, since i check the webcam often.
i went back that evening to take more pictures, and that time had to stand in line about 40 minutes. (the other times i went to see it, just a few people were around and i walked right in.) all these people came with their families, little kids, old people, etc. i'm glad something "scientific" can generate such interest, and that something that doesn't involve death or destruction or scandal is a top news story. while everyone waited in line, people from the botany department came out with big posterboards covered with pictures and gave little talks about the titan arum. lots of interesting little anecdotes, like, this flower is from a seed brought back from sumatra by david attenborough. but somehow a grower in arizona got a hold of some of the seeds and sold some seedlings. someone here bought one and had it in his apartment until it became too unwieldy and he gave it to the university. also, the day the flower opened, the smell reached the offices upstairs in the main building. the people at another greenhouse where a titan arum had bloomed said _not_ to open up the greenhouse windows to air it out -- they had done that and had been inundated with flies. anyway, it wasn't bad waiting in line, and everyone was cheerful and polite, every time i went. even when there were lots of gawkers mingling around while the staff were trying to take scientific measurements, and even when people were waiting in line in the hot sun, there remained a very happy excited atmosphere, with no grouching.
june 11, i checked the webcam in the afternoon, and the spadix has keeled over. :-(
when i was a kid i read about titan arums and loved the idea of a gigantic flower that smelled terrible, and wanted to see & smell one, so it's wonderful to have this opportunity to fulfill a lifetime goal.
copyright wendy mukluk 2001
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