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Carolus art

Members of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Bridget Bossart van Otterloo, Amy Maltzan and Gretchen Halpert visited the Conservatory to capture Carolus during the Titan arum’s bloom.  Last image: Gretchen and Bridget ham it up with Conservatory outreach volunteer Marla Coppolino as Carolus’s spadix collapses.

Bridget's illustration

Bridget’s illustration

Amy's sketch

Amy’s sketch

Gretchen's illustration

Gretchen’s illustration

Gretchen, Marla and Brenda

Gretchen, Marla and Brenda

Carolus time-lapse

Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, Cornell University, September 15 to 17, 2019

Carolus still impressive

Even though the spathe has wilted considerably and the stench has mostly waned, Carolus’s spadix still towers nearly 100 inches tall and makes an impressive specimen. Cornell AES grower Paul Cooper cut a window in the spathe for a better view of the flowers, and this morning the male flowers were shedding pollen. (See image below.)

We’re back to normal visitor hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.  Stop by for a visit. View livestreamLearn more | Growth chart

Carolus Tuesday morning.

Carolus Tuesday morning.

Male flowers above the female flowers shedding strings of pollen.

Male flowers above the female flowers shedding strings of pollen.

Livestream

High temperatures in the Conservatory are occasionally causing equipment to shut down. If you see the stream is unavailable, please email me at cdc25@cornell.edu so I can restart the stream.

 

Carolus still looking good

We will have extended hours Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Carolus still looked great and was pretty stinky at dawn:

carolus the morning after

At 7 a.m. this morning, Carolus was looking pretty good — and still stinky.

Carolus art

Illustration of Carolus on sept 6

When she’s not managing the grants program for Cornell’s Center for Advanced Technology, Marla Coppolino is a frequent visitor to the Conservatory, where she often finds inspiration for her illustrations.  This week, that inspiration was Carolus, the Titan arum poised to bloom in the coming days.

Marla also contributed odes to Wee Stinky during the last flowering in the Conservatory. (Part 1 | Part 2)

Mann Library: Fetid fest

Titan arum illustration from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Visit Mann Library’s tumblr page for some historical context of Titan arum blooms under cultivation, including vintage botanical illustrations from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine documenting what was likely the very first time a titan arum bloomed as a cultivated greenhouse plant—130 years ago, in the Kew Botanical Gardens of London.

Cornell Chronicle: ‘Corpse flower’ poised to make another big stink

The Titan arum Carolus is pictured in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Also known as a “corpse plant” due to its strong odor of rotting flesh, the plant is expected to bloom in the next few days.

The Titan arum Carolus is pictured in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Also known as a “corpse plant” due to its strong odor of rotting flesh, the plant is expected to bloom in the next few days. Photo: Allison Usavage/Cornell University

Cornell Chronicle [2019-09-11]:

Carolus, one of Cornell’s two Titan arum plants, also known as “corpse flowers,” will again unleash its fetid odor in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory on Tower Road in the coming days.

“The flowering is brief – just a day or two – and difficult to predict,” said Paul Cooper, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse grower who cares for the Titan arums and more than 600 other species of plants in the conservatory. “But the bloom is nothing if not memorable.”

That’s because the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) – native to the jungles of Sumatra, where it is threatened by habitat loss – has a fascinating pollination strategy: It releases volatile chemicals that smell like a rotting carcass to attract flies and carrion beetles to transport pollen from one plant to another.

The plant also warms to more than 100 degrees, to help waft the foul scent up into the canopy so it can travel far and wide. Skunk cabbage, a related plant native to the Finger Lakes, uses a similar strategy when it flowers in early spring, often melting surrounding snow.

Titan arums also produce the tallest unbranched flowering structure in the plant world, towering higher than 108 inches (9 feet). The last time Carolus flowered, it reached 75 inches tall; as of Sept. 11, it already stood 88 inches – making it the tallest Titan arum ever grown at Cornell – and was growing about five inches a day.

Read the whole article.

Titan arum poised to make another big stink

Carolus – one of a pair of Cornell Titan arums – will again unleash its fetid odor in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory on Tower Road in the coming days.

“The flowering is brief – just a day or two – and difficult to predict,” says Paul Cooper, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Cornell AES) greenhouse grower who cares for the Titan arums and more than 600 other species of plants in the Conservatory. “But the bloom is nothing if not memorable.”

That’s because the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) – native to the jungles of Sumatra where it is threatened by habitat loss – has a fascinating pollination strategy: It releases volatile chemicals that smell like a rotting carcass to attract flies and carrion beetles to transport pollen from one plant to another.

The plant also warms to over 100 degrees F to help waft the foul scent up into the canopy so it can travel far and wide. Skunk cabbage – a related plant native to the Finger Lakes – uses a similar strategy when it flowers in early spring, often melting surrounding snow.

Titan arums also produce the largest unbranched inflorescence (flowering structure) in the plant world, towering as high as 3 meters. The last time Carolus flowered, it reached 75 inches tall. As of September 8, it already stood 72 inches and was growing about 5 inches a day. (View growth chart.)

paul cooper measuring carolus

Cooper measured Carolus at 72 inches September 8 – just three inches shy of its height during previous bloom. The plant was growing about 5 inches a day.

This will be only the second time since 2012 – when Carolus’s sibling Wee Stinky was the first Titan arum to flower at Cornell – that the plants have bloomed while students are on campus. “They’ve been pretty bashful.  This is the seventh bloom we’ve had but it seems like they’re always flowering during breaks,” says Cooper. “We hope the students will take advantage of this opportunity to come to the Conservatory to experience it firsthand.”

Titan arum flowerings were relatively rare at the time of that first flowering, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors who stood in line for an hour or more to catch a glimpse – and get a whiff. But since then, the species has become popular in conservatories around the world.

During that first flowering, Wee Stinky was pollinated by hand with pollen provided by Binghamton University, and Cooper distributed dozens of the resulting seeds and seedlings. The plants usually take seven to ten years to reach flowering size.

Between flowerings, Titan arums produce a single towering leaf the size of a small tree. While Carolus blooms this month, Wee Stinky is in full leaf alongside it.  The leaf gathers energy from the sun to refuel the corm – an underground bulb-like structure – to power the next flowering.  Carolus’s corm weighed about 120 pounds when Cooper re-potted it in July.

Since they reached maturity, Cooper has been able to coax each plant to bloom about every two years or so.  The last time Carolus flowered, its timing was perfect and Cooper planted the corm outside in a pot in nearby Minns Garden.  That was perhaps the farthest north a Titan arum has bloomed unprotected from the elements.

In the run-up to the flowering, the Conservatory is open to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Late one afternoon in the near future, the plant will show signs of flowering, which proceeds rapidly over several hours in the evening. Look for announcements on the Conservatory blog (conservatory.cals.cornell.edu) or through Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Twitter feed and Facebook page about extended visiting hours that night. While still impressive, the bloom usually starts to whither and the smell begins to dissipate by the following morning.

The Conservatory houses one of several plant collections that make up the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) and is maintained by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Titan arum leaf expansion video

Watch Amorphophallus titanum ‘Wee Stinky’ grows its new leaf from July 7 to August 8, 2019 in 30 seconds.

Conservatory open for reunion 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m June 8

In addition to our normal weekday hours, the Conservatory will be open to the public 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m on Saturday, June 8.

Many plants are in flower now. Explore the palm house, peruse the succulent bench and orchid collection.  Marvel at the carnivorous plants.

Hope to see you there.

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