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Victoria lily flowering (one more time)

Last night — for the third time in a little more than a week — the Victoria lily (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) in the water feature in the Palm House began its dramatic two-day flower display. But currently there are no other flower buds showing. So this might be your last chance to witness this plant’s spectacular bloom for a while.

The plant has much in common with the Conservatory’s Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), even though the two species are not at all closely related:

  • It’s a large plant. The cultivar we’re growing is a cross between South American natives V. cruziana and V. amazonica. The latter is the larger of the two parents, and under the right conditions it can produce pads nearly 10 feet in diameter. People often photograph small children supported by the pads to demonstrate their strength. (Obey the signage and do not try it here. It’s dangerous and you’ll injure our smaller plant.)
  • The bloom time is short. Victoria lilies open at dusk and the blooms last only about 48 hours or so.
  • The flowers use fragrance and heat to attract pollinators. The first evening, the flower is white and releases a pineapple-like scent and generates heat to attract beetles. It’s a lot more pleasant than the foul odor Titan arums use to attract pollinators in search of rotting flesh.
  • The flower goes to great lengths to assure cross-pollination. During the first evening, the flower’s female parts are ready to receive pollen the beetles might be carrying from another Victoria lily. The flower then closes, trapping the beetles inside.  During the next day, the anthers mature and start releasing pollen that the beetles carry from the flower when it opens in the evening. The flower changes to a purplish red, signaling to beetles that their pollination services are no longer needed.

Subscribe to our email updates and we’ll let you know when it flowers again.

 

Victoria lily flowering (again)

The blooms keep coming …

The Victoria lily (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) in the water feature in the Palm House began its dramatic two-day flower display last night. And there is another flower bud poised to open, likely in the next week.

The plant has much in common with the Conservatory’s Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), even though the two species are not at all closely related:

  • It’s a large plant. The cultivar we’re growing is a cross between South American natives V. cruziana and V. amazonica. The latter is the larger of the two parents, and under the right conditions it can produce pads nearly 10 feet in diameter. People often photograph small children supported by the pads to demonstrate their strength. (Obey the signage and do not try it here. It’s dangerous and you’ll injure our smaller plant.)
  • The bloom time is short. Victoria lilies open at dusk and the blooms last only about 48 hours or so.
  • The flowers use fragrance and heat to attract pollinators. The first evening, the flower is white and releases a pineapple-like scent and generates heat to attract beetles. It’s a lot more pleasant than the foul odor Titan arums use to attract pollinators in search of rotting flesh.
  • The flower goes to great lengths to assure cross-pollination. During the first evening, the flower’s female parts are ready to receive pollen the beetles might be carrying from another Victoria lily. The flower then closes, trapping the beetles inside.  During the next day, the anthers mature and start releasing pollen that the beetles carry from the flower when it opens in the evening. The flower changes to a purplish red, signaling to beetles that their pollination services are no longer needed.

One important difference: If you missed flowering this time, you won’t need to wait as long to have another chance to view this phenomena in person. Our specimen already has another flower bud poised to open soon. Subscribe to our email updates and we’ll let you know when it’s happening.

 

Victoria lily flowering

The Victoria lily (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) in the water feature in the Palm House began its dramatic two-day flower display last night.

The plant has much in common with the Conservatory’s Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), even though the two species are not at all closely related:

  • It’s a large plant. The cultivar we’re growing is a cross between South American natives V. cruziana and V. amazonica. The latter is the larger of the two parents, and under the right conditions it can produce pads nearly 10 feet in diameter. People often photograph small children supported by the pads to demonstrate their strength. (Obey the signage and do not try it here. It’s dangerous and you’ll injure our smaller plant.)
  • The bloom time is short. Victoria lilies open at dusk and the blooms last only about 48 hours or so.
  • The flowers use fragrance and heat to attract pollinators. The first evening, the flower is white and releases a pineapple-like scent and generates heat to attract beetles. It’s a lot more pleasant than the foul odor Titan arums use to attract pollinators in search of rotting flesh.
  • The flower goes to great lengths to assure cross-pollination. During the first evening, the flower’s female parts are ready to receive pollen the beetles might be carrying from another Victoria lily. The flower then closes, trapping the beetles inside.  During the next day, the anthers mature and start releasing pollen that the beetles carry from the flower when it opens in the evening. The flower changes to a purplish red, signaling to beetles that their pollination services are no longer needed.

One important difference: If you missed flowering this time, you won’t need to wait as long to have another chance to view this phenomena in person. Our specimen already has another flower bud poised to open soon. Subscribe to our email updates and we’ll let you know when it’s happening.

 

President Pollack visits LHBC

Patty Chan ’18 and Nicolas Glynos ’17 answer President Pollack's plant questions on tour of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

Patty Chan ’18 and Nicolas Glynos ’17 answer President Pollack’s plant questions on tour of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Marketing and Communications.

Cornell University President Martha Pollack stopped by the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Thursday as part of a tour of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS). Plant sciences majors Nicolas Glynos ’17 and Patty Chan ’18 led President Pollack and CALS Dean Kathryn Boor on a tour of the Conservatory’s collection of more than 600 plant species. “Nick and Patty did a great job explaining the Conservatory and answering President Pollack’s questions about the plants,” says SIPS director Christine Smart. “We’re so lucky to have this resource to engage people in the plant sciences.”

View more images on the CALS Facebook page.

Chan and Pollack. Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Marketing and Communications.

Chan and Pollack. Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Marketing and Communications.

Cornell Chronicle: Titan arum blooms outside for first time

Both the Cornell Chronicle and CALS News reported this week on Carolus’s historic bloom:

Carolus in full bloom at dawn August 8, 2017.

Carolus in full bloom at dawn August 8, 2017.

Summer breezes wafting through Cornell’s Minns Garden carried the aromas of fresh grass, notes of floral and, for a few days in August, something akin to rotting meat.

Yet the chance to experience that repugnant odor drew thousands of visitors to the garden near the Plant Science Building. The reason: Carolus, one of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), as the giant, smelly tropical plant also known as a corpse flower bloomed outdoors for the first time ever in a region outside of the tropics.

Carolus started its dramatic show Aug. 7, unleashing its mighty rotten-meat stench that, in the sweltering forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, attracts flies, carrion beetles and other pollinators looking for a snack and a place to lay eggs.

Coaxing the plant to bloom outside in the cool of an Ithaca summer takes a lot of nerve and a little luck, said Paul Cooper, the greenhouse grower for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES), who cares for Cornell’s two flowering-sized Titan arums.

Read the whole article.

Carolus waning. Carolus dancing.

Carolus continues to wane Friday morning.

Carolus continues to wane Friday morning.

Thanks to all who stopped by this week to visit Carolus blooming in Minns Garden (map) .

Carolus continues to wane, but will remain outside at least through the weekend if you’d like to take one last look. Soon, Conservatory staff will move the pot inside where the underground corm will remain dormant for a few months before putting out a single huge leaf to begin recharging the corm for next flowering.

Many visitors this week who had visited during previous Titan arum flowerings remarked how different the plant looked outside in a more natural setting. Another big difference: There’s no wind in the Conservatory. Outside, Carolus’s spathe was free to dance in the breeze.

 

Visit our Titan arum video playlist to view timelapse and educational videos from previous flowerings.

Carolus: Spadix collapsing

Overnight, the tip of Carolus’s spadix tipped over as it continues to dry down. (That’s entirely normal and expected.) There’s still a bit of the arum’s trademark aroma lingering. Stop by Minns Garden (map) for a look.

Carolus's spadix tipped over.

Carolus’s spadix tipped over.

 

Carolus: No longer (as) stinky

Carolus Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.

Carolus Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.

‘Wee Stinky’– one of two flowering-sized Titan arums in the Conservatory’s collection — towering in its vegetative stage in the Palm House near the doorway to the Student House.

‘Wee Stinky’– one of two flowering-sized Titan arums in the Conservatory’s collection — towering in its vegetative stage in the Palm House near the doorway to the Student House.

After putting on a stinky show for visitors to Minns Garden (map) on Tuesday, Carolus has lost most of it’s stink.

The Titan arum reached peak bloom outside early Tuesday morning. The spathe — dancing in the breeze — dried down steadily as the day progressed and is nearly totally desiccated this morning.

But the spadix is still standing and will likely stay upright for at least a few days. It’s hard to know for sure because this is the first time we’ve ever done this outside.

If you stop by for a look, you can also visit Carolus’s sibling Wee Stinky in full leaf touring into the rafters of the nearby Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.  Conservatory hours at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. m

Carolus looking good — and still stinky

We weren’t sure how Carolus would respond to cool Ithaca temperatures. But the spathe unfurled fully and the Titan arum continues to emit its carrion-like odor to attract pollinators. Stop by Minns Garden (map) today for an up-close look — and smell.

An early morning photo shoot.

An early morning photo shoot.

 

Carolus still unfurling

Our fear was that Carolus would stall out after getting started. But the spathe continues to unfurl. And the aroma is getting pretty strong, especially in the zone immediately downwind of the plant.

How will Carolus look — and smell — in the morning? We don’t know. But please stop by to find out for yourself.

Capturing images inside the spathe.

Capturing images inside the spathe.

 Plant Sciences major Patty Chan and CUAES greenhouse grower Paul Cooper prepare to deploy a sticky trap inside the spathe to see what carrion-loving pollinators are attracted by Carolus's scent.


Plant Sciences major Patty Chan and CUAES greenhouse grower Paul Cooper prepare to deploy a sticky trap inside the spathe to see what carrion-loving pollinators are attracted by Carolus’s scent.

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