NSU awaits bloom of giant “corpse” flower

NSU awaits bloom of giant “corpse” flower

Abigail Poe, Dr. Michael Scanlan and Millard Mangrum examine the spike growing from the corm of a titan arum or corpse flower that is expected to bloom next week. The plant will produce an enormous flower with a putrid scent that gives the plant its common name.

NSU awaits bloom of giant “corpse” flower

NSU Biological Sciences faculty John Byrd and Millard Mangrum transported a titan arum plant from the Bienvenu Hall greenhouse to a larger home in 2018 when the plant outgrew its greenhouse.

Northwestern State University’s sculpture yard might be mistaken for a Little Shop of Horrors next week as faculty await the bloom of a giant corpse flower, a rare and attractive tropical plant named for the rotten-meat stench its bloom produces.

The corpse flower, amorphophallus titanium or titan arum, is a single inflorescence that can grow to nine feet or more. It only flowers once every seven or eight years and only three to five blooming events from plants grown in cultivation happen worldwide each year. Native to Sumatra, Indonesia, the plant flowers infrequently in the wild and even more rarely when cultivated. Titan arum generally requires seven to 10 years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. After its initial blooming, some plants may not bloom again for another seven to 10 years while others may bloom every two or three years.

“There is an eightyear story to go along with this plant,” said Millard Mangrum, professor in the School of Biological and Physical Sciences. Mangrum calls the plant Mr. Stinky, though it emits no odor until it blooms. In 2012, he and two other botany enthusiasts went in together to purchase the titan arum corm for $75. “It was a 2-1/2-inch corm, similar to a bulb.” It now weighs 40-45 pounds.




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