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EIU H.F. Thut Greenhouse

Our Titan Arum Bloomed Again!

 General information:

The Titan Arum or Amorphophallus titanum  is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The plant is also known as the carrion flower or the corpse flower because the flower’s fragrance is similar to the odor of rotting meat.   The Titan Arum was discovered by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari, in Sumatra in 1878. It grows wild only in the tropical forests of Sumatra. The Titan Arum first flowered in cultivation at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew in London in 1889. Since then, over 100 cultivated flowers have blossomed. Titan Arum flowering was first documented in the United States at the New York Botanical Gardens in 1937.   

The Titan Arum grows from a tuber which can eventually weigh over 200 pounds.  The plant produces a single leaf that can reach twenty feet tall and fifteen feet across with a petiole as thick as a person's thigh.  The single leaf will grow for about twelve to eighteen months and look almost tree-like.  The leaf will then die back and the tuber will rest for about six months, followed by another single leaf.  

After a number of years of vegetative growth, the tuber will send up a singleTitan Arum labeled inflorescence with both male and female flowers. The inflorescence develops over about three to four weeks and when fully developed can reach ten feet tall by three to four feet wide.  The spadix (fleshy central column) has thousands of flowers hidden in its base.  The outer spathe, which looks like a frilly upturned skirt has a maroon interior and green exterior.  The large inflorescence usually opens abruptly (within hours) and remains open for only one night.

Image courtesy Mo Fayyaz, University of Wisconsin - Madison   

When fully open, the inflorescence produces a "rotting-fish-burnt-sugar" scent.  The odor is strongest at night and attracts carrion beetles and flies which serve as pollinators.  Additionally, the tip of the spadix warms up to approximately the temperature of the human body.  This heating is thought to assist in dispersing the scent.   After three to five days the spadix collapses.  The spathe falls off and the fruit mature if there has been successful pollination.  The poisonous ripe fruit are bright orange-red, about the size of cherries and are attractive to birds.  Birds eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.

The seed for the Titan Arum at Eastern Illinois University was obtained from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2001. The ovule donor was “Big Bucky” and the pollen donor was “Mr. Magnificent” from the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. Our Titan Arum's name is "The Velvet Queen."

The seeds for both “Big Bucky” and “Mr. Magnificent” were collected by Dr. James R. Symon during a trip to Sumatra in 1993 on a BBC expedition filming The Private Lives of Plants. Dr. Symon collected the seeds from the sole A. titanium found in fruit and distributed the seeds to U.S. and British conservatories and greenhouses for cultivation. Amorphophallus titanum is on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Titan Arum FLOG (flowering log)      

    July 4, 2012  

Fungus is amongus.  The spadix slowly, slowly, slowly collapsed yesterday evening.  So sad.  It gave its all, for which I am grateful.

We had a fairly good turnout. I estimate we had about 200 visitors to the greenhouse and about 2500 virtual visitors watching the plant on the Internet.  Hopefully, a good time was had by all.
I will leave the video feed up for the rest of the day, but will turn it off tomorrow.

I update Wikipedia to show our bloom.  Ours is number 163 of those publicized since 1889, and about the 96th to bloom in the United States since the first one in 1937.

The timelapse camera continues to click away...  I will let it continue to do so until the inflorescence becomes a crispy critter.  This way, we will have a timelapse not only of the plant blooming, but also of its decay.

     July 3, 2012  

The spadix is leaning off to the side and the gauzy interior can be seen.  The spadix should topple sometime today.  The spathe continues to wilt and will probably collapse within a week.

The Ustream feed continues to occasionally cut off our transmission. When it does so, it gives me a "bandwidth warning." just prior to doing so.  I presume it is a bandwidth issue with our network.  Somebody, or something out there on the network occasionally sucks up network bandwidth and leaves our broadcast struggling.  I have been broadcasting at 30FPS and a datarate of 300-1500 kbps.  The computer's CPU is cranking away at 50-80%.  I'll try to keep the broadcast going for a couple of days so those of you who want to watch a corpse flower inflorescence coughing up blood as it dies can be suitably entertained.

     July 2, 2012  

I cut a window in the spathe this morning so visitors could see the flowers.  I don't see anyTitan Arum pollen production from the male flowers.

       July 1, 2012  

4:30 AM.
Yes, I know, the live video feed is offline.  I'm at home right now.  I'll check into it asTitan Arum soon as I eat a little breakfast and get over to the greenhouse.  Don't panic.  It's probably just a "lost" connection thing due to network maintenance or something.  We should be back up and running again shortly... No, it didn't bloom last night.  You're not missing anything.  It's still pitch black in the greenhouse anyway, so why are you watching it at this hour?  Can't sleep?  Too excited?

5:45 AM.
  Back on the air again... Nope, it didn't bloom last night.

1:45 PM.
  Uh Oh!  I think I see a little movement of the spathe.  It may be my imagination, but I think it might be doing something.  Consider this to be a possible bloom alert!  I'll keep watching it and let you know in an hour or so if it's confirmed to be opening!

2:45 PM.
  The inflorescence is 47.25" tall and 23.25" in circumference.  It doesn't look like we are going to make it to 48" tall.  I didn't see any secretions coming out of the base of the spathe this morning or this afternoon.  However, visitors report occasionally smelling a distinct aroma of rotting fish.
Waiting to see if there's going to be significant movement in the spathe.  Not floppy yet...

3:30 PM.
As I sit here, waiting for more indications of the spathe opening, I started thinking about the little tuber chip and its little bud.  I wondered, if, as part of a tuber which was set to flower, does it have the same chemical signals telling it to flower? And if so, is the tiny bud going to attempt to form an itty bitty inflorescence?  Or will it send up a little tiny leaf instead?  Only time will tell.

4:45 PM  Bloom Alert!
  Spathe is loose and floppy! one half to two inch gap between spadix and spathe now. It's Opening!  I expect the spathe to be fully open in about 4-5 hours.  The greenhouse will be open until midnight.

6:30 PM.
  First fly has shown up.  Spathe is about 10% open now.  Not smelly yet.  Almost realtime pictures posted.  Temperature in the greenhouse is now down to 98F.  Getting pretty chilly in here... Where's my sweater?

7:20 PM.
  For some reason, Ustream occasionally "loses" the network connection.  I'll keep an eye on it so we don't go offline for long.  I know how you love to sit and watch the grass grow.  :-)

9:30 PM.
  There definitely is an odor that fills the room.  It smells more like dead fish than anything.  It isn't as bad or intense as the last time and doesn't extend much further than the room.
I think the spathe has expanded as much as it is going to expand.  It isn't very wide, more vase-like.  But I'll take it anyway.

Tomorrow morning I will cut a window in the spathe so visitors can see inside and look at the flowers.  I will be here with the greenhouse open from 9AM until 6PM.

       June 30, 2012  

12:30 PM.
The only change so far is the appearance of a third small split on the spadix.Titan Arum

2:45 PM.
  Still no change except the third split on the spadix which is widening a bit.  I'm watching for the secretions that are supposed to be released from the base of the spathe on the afternoon of the day it blooms.  Still waiting and watching.

99F in here now.

5:30 PM.
The inflorescence is 47.0" tall and 23.0" in circumference.  Will we make it to 48" or not?
Still no movement of the spathe.  No secretions coming from the base of the spathe either.


The last bract falling away yesterday was an indication that it should bloom in one to two days, which would make Sunday the probable day based on past experience.  Hopefully, there should be secretions coming from the spathe tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.  We'll just have to keep waiting and watching.

I'll be here until 8:30 PM just in case it decides to surprise us.

8:00 PM.
  No action so far.  I don't think It will bloom tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow.

   June 29, 2012  

12:00 PM
. The final bract has effectively fallen away.  Looking under it, the spatheTitan Arum appears to have some developmental damage.  Not serious damage, but a slight fender "ding."  There is no movement yet in the spathe.  IF it is going to bloom today, it should start to loosen up within a couple of hours.

2:30 PM.
  The last bract has fallen away.  Still no movement of the spathe.  Close up, spadix smells a bit like rotten fish.

108F in here now.

I've been reading some papers about Titan Arum cultivation.  Lobin, et. al. (1), states: "On the afternoon before the spathe opens, and especially on the morning of that day, a secretion pours out of the closed bud where the spathe overlaps and runs down the peduncle.  Sometimes this is accompanied by a slight mal odour of the appendix."  Huh.  I did not know that.  I don't see any secretion yet, but I will keep my eye on it.

(1) Wolfram Lobin, et al. 2007. The Cultivation of Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - A Flagship Species for Botanic Gardens. Sibbaldia: The Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, No 5. pp 69-86

5:30 PM.
  Still no movement of the spathe.  I have a feeling that it won't be blooming today, but I'll stay until about 8:30 PM to make sure.

The inflorescence is 45.75" tall and 22.5" in circumference.  Vertical growth has just about stopped and the spathe continues to plump out a little more.  The top of one of the splits is turning a little bit brown, perhaps due to a loss of circulation.

I think she's ready to go.  Maybe tomorrow?

8:30 PM.
  All quiet on the home front. No secretion from the spathe so far.  I'll be back at noon tomorrow.  Hopefully, there will be a secretion pouring out of the spathe and running down the peduncle tomorrow afternoon.

   June 28, 2012  

12:30 PM.
With my nose close to the spadix, I can smell something a little bit rotten fishy.Titan Arum  I think that's a good sign.  I can occasionally get a whiff of it sitting five feet away.  Four out of five bracts are crispy and the fifth is about to fall away.  So consider this to be a possible bloom alert for today.  If it does bloom today, the spathe should start to loosen within a couple of hours and will be fully open by about 6PM.
The gap at the bottom of the spadix is getting wider.  Unfortunately, I can't see down below the edge of the spathe to see if the split extends down through the male and female flowers or not.

The inflorescence is 45" tall and 21.5" in circumference.

The temperature in the greenhouse is 102F in the shade.  Easy for me because I'm used to it.  So here I am waiting and watching for it to do something spectacular, sitting in the greenhouse, in sun, in the heat, dripping sweat on the keyboard so you don't have to.

3:00 PM.
  The spadix continues to smell a little bit like rotting fish.  However, the base of the spadix, where the widest gap is has started to turn yellow.  I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.  There's no visible spathe movement at this time.
108F where I'm sitting.  Yes, I'm keeping myself hydrated.  Iced tea.

5:50 PM.
Still no movement on the spathe.  If it does decide to bloom tonight, it will probably wait until 8PM or later to start to open.  I'll stay until about 8:30 or 9:00.  If it starts to open later than that... *sigh* I won't be here and will check back in about 6AM if necessary.

8:00 PM.
  Still no movement on the spathe.  

The split in the spadix converges near its base, so my hope is that the only damage is to the spadix (and survivable) and that the male and female flower regions are still intact.  However, if the flowering region is damaged (split) and that split propagated upwards into the spadix, then the inflorescence may be in trouble and may collapse without blooming.  Be prepared for possible disappointment. *sigh*

8:45 PM.
  No changes.  Time to go home.  I'll be in at noon tomorrow and we'll see if we can get it to do its thing tomorrow afternoon.

       June 27, 2012  

6:30 AM.  When I came in to open up the greenhouse this morning, I detected A VERYTitan Arum strong aroma of a ripening corpse flower.  It was very pleasant.  The gaps in the spadix closed up overnight and the spadix remains stiff and upright.

I think she's gonna make it.  A bit gimpy maybe, but just one or two more days to go to the finish line.

Game On!

2:00 PM.
  OK, I'm back.  Although both sides of the split spadix have closed from the middle to the top, a half-inch gap remains near the bottom of the spadix.  This is my first experience with a split spadix, so I'm unsure what will happen.  However, it seems to me that an inflorescence that has invested over three months of effort and energy in flowering isn't going to let a little spadix boo boo stop the show at the last minute.  They've been doing this for millions of years and have probably evolved to compensate for damage from an occasional brush with an animal crashing though the forest.  I would think getting stomped on by a dinosaur might discourage it from flowering, but probably not a split spadix.

Hopefully it will bloom tomorrow or Friday.  I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

5:30 PM.
  The inflorescence is 44.0" tall and 20.75" in circumference.

That's another 1.25" in height.  Come on 48! I'm rooting for you!  And no, the circumference didn't shrink by an inch. The bracts that were formerly full of life and cupped outward have withered completely and now lay flat against the spathe when I make the measurement.

Visitors have detected occasional, brief, faint puffs of an "off" scent this afternoon.  A good indication that she's ready to go at any time.

Bract number four is almost a crispy critter and will probably fall away tonight.  The last bract is severely wilted and will probably fall tomorrow.  Based on previous experience, the spathe should open in one to two days after the last bract falls.  Which means Friday. But I'm fine with Thursday too... or Saturday...

I'll be in at noon tomorrow to check progress throughout the day and stay until about 8:30 PM unless it opens, in which case I'll be here til midnight.

We have a heat advisory in effect for Thursday and Friday.  The temperature is expected to be in the 100s outside.  The greenhouse is usually about 15 degrees warmer than outside due to the "greenhouse effect." So I will discourage you from visiting the greenhouse during the heat of the day.  It is best to visit the greenhouse in the early or late evening when it is relatively cool inside.  I have all the vents and doors open and exhaust fans blowing so it isn't tremendously hot in here.  But I'm used to the heat in the greenhouse.  You probably are not.  So wear appropriate hot weather clothing, drink plenty of liquids, and visit us in the evening.

The Life Science Building will be open and serve as a cooling center if you feel a bit overwhelmed by the heat.

  No movement of the spathe so far.  It probably won't bloom tonight.  I'm tired and goin' home.

    June 26, 2012  

1:15 PM.  When I came in to open up the greenhouse this morning, I detected the very faintTitan Arum aroma of a ripening corpse flower.  It wasn't an unpleasant odor like death warmed over, but a rather distinct, funky sweet-ish ripening scent... a "tropical-earthy-plant" scent.  The last time I smelled this aroma was three days before the 2010 bloom and shortly before the 2008 bloom.  I think we are getting close.  Really close.  If I detect the same aroma tomorrow morning when I open the greenhouse, then I'll know we are getting really, really close.

Since we are getting close to popping, I'll be in the greenhouse from 2PM until 8PM tomorrow and from noon until 8PM on Thursday to monitor the situation, just in case it decides to surprise us and bloom "early."  I'll probably be here all day Friday because my gut feeling says it will bloom Friday afternoon (knock on wood). 
That being said, the flower has its own agenda and may decide to start blooming late in the evening rather than early afternoon.  It has been known to happen.  One of my colleagues was closing up his greenhouse late one evening and detected the aroma of his corpse flower starting to bloom.  It opened that night and everybody missed it.  So sad.  Hopefully it won't happen to us (knock on wood).

3:30 PM.
  I have been occasionally smelling puffs of a pungent aroma in the room.  When I stuck my face close to the spadix to sniff, I noticed a deep vertical crease developing on the side of the spadix.  Looking down inside the spathe, the spadix appears to be splitting.  I can see a crack.  Hopefully, its not going to collapse.

5:30 PM.
  The inflorescence is 42.75" tall and 21.75" in circumference.

The split in the spadix continues to widen.  This is not a good sign.  According to my research, the Titan Arum spadix is easily damaged and if it does suffer damage, the entire inflorescence usually collapses.  So, we must be prepared for disappointment.

If the spadix continues to decline overnight, the inflorescence may collapse Wednesday night or Thursday. 


The next question is what caused the spadix to split?

Too hot or too cool or excessive temperature swings during development? Underwatering?  Overwatering and rot?

I don't know.

8:30 PM.
  The spadix split on two sides and the gaps are now more than 1/2" wide.  I expect the spadix may collapse sometime tonight or early tomorrow morning followed by the spathe within a couple of days if the damage is too extensive. 

    June 25, 2012  

The inflorescence is 41.5" tall and 21.0" in circumference.Titan Arum

We may reach 48" yet if growth continues at this pace.  The spathe continues to darken and is taking on a purple-ish hue.  Bract number three is a crispy critter and bract number four isn't long for this world.  The fifth and final bract is still maintaining a stiff upper lip, but is beginning to wither. 

Patiently waiting and watching.  Best guess is sometime Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Tom Canam will be using a timelapse camera to capture the bloom opening.  We set the camera up this afternoon and successfully tested it.  In the process, we managed to snap a picture of a rarely photographed local omnivore that wandered into our temporary jungle clearing before quickly disappearing into the dense tropical underbrush. Here's the picture.

    June 24, 2012  

The inflorescence is 38.5" tall and 18.5" in circumference.Titan Arum

While showing some visitors the spathe this afternoon, I mentioned how I was waiting for it to blush and looked down to show them where it would start turning pink.  Lo and behold... first blush.  :-)

There was just a slight hint of pink on the inside surface, but as the afternoon and evening progressed, it started to turn a much darker shade of pink and should be much rederererer tomorrow.  Which means, that it may bloom in about four to five days... Thursday or Friday maybe?  Waiting for the last bract to fall.

    June 23, 2012  

The inflorescence is 35.5" tall and 17.25" in circumference.Titan Arum

OK, let's do some number crunching and see if we can figure out when this baby is going to pop.

I selected four inflorescence developmental milestones to help determine when our Titan Arum will possibly bloom:  The date when the spadix emerged from the bracts, the date when the inflorescence looked similar to the current inflorescence, the date when the spathe began to turn red (blush), and the date when the last bract fell away. 

The table below shows how many days elapsed from each milestone until the day it bloomed in 2008 and 2010.  The 2012 values are my projections for the current bloom if it develops at the same rate as the two previous blooms.

Table 1.  Days until the spathe opened from developmental milestones in 2008, 2010 and projected(*) 2012.

Year Spadix emerged "Current" appearance Spathe blushed Last bract fell Spathe opened
2008 11 7 4 2 0
2010 12 7 5 2 0
2012 18* 7* 4-5* 2* 0

So, what does this data suggest?  The data show that the two previous blooms consistently opened a week after appearing to be similar to today's inflorescence developmental state.  So, if we compare the current inflorescence with the past two blooms, the spathe should start to turn red in about two to three days. The last bract should fall away in about five days and the spathe should open in about seven days.  This would place the blooming event around Saturday, June 30. 

Am I putting money on it?  Noooo.

The next milestone will be the day the spathe starts to turn red.  I'll update my prediction then.

    June 22, 2012  

The inflorescence is 33.0" tall and 17.0" in circumference.Titan Arum

The inflorescence continues to grow taller at a fairly consistent rate of about two inches per day.  But the rate of girth development is slowing down considerably. The spathe continues to be a frustrating shade of green, not even a hint of red yet.  The bracts continue to dry and shrivel and are fairly loose. Bract number three is mostly brown, but not quite a crispy critter.

Outside the greenhouse it's dry as a bone except where I'm watering the garden.  Brown grass, wilting trees, sad flowers.  However, one bright side to all this dry weather is that I have seen neither hide nor hair of Japanese Beetles. And that's a good thing.  Nobody wants to see hairy Japanese Beetles.

     June 21, 2012  

The inflorescence is 30.5" tall and 16.75" in circumference.Titan Arum

The spathe is still green.  Not seeing red yet.

A cold front came through this afternoon, dropping a little rain and the outdoor temperature from 90F to a pleasant 76F. The greenhouse is 86F as of 6PM.  Wonderful weather in the Tropical Room.

A black cat has been frequenting the Secret Garden outside the greenhouse for the past few days. I don't know if that's a bad omen or not.  The cat has been stalking the garden's resident Eastern Chipmunk (Alvin) and will frequently sit motionless in front of one of the Alvin's numerous burrow entrances, staring intently at the opening.  I think I will name the cat "Dave."  Forget it Dave, you're never going to catch Alvin.
Anyway, Alvin is a frequent visitor in the greenhouse.  He'll go shooting through the rooms like a bolt of lightning.  When he zips through my office while I'm sitting at my desk, it frequently startles the heck out of me.  Alvin's most endearing activity is gathering nuts and stuffing them in his cheek pouches.  He will occasionally sit at my office door with his cheeks stuffed to the gills, watching me, then go shooting off if I make the slightest movement.

Just glanced out the window... hello Alvin, how's it goin'? Don't let that black cat cross your path.

      June 20, 2012  

The inflorescence is 28.25" tall and 16.0" in circumference.Titan Arum

Vertical growth continues at about a 2" per day pace and that's good.  I'd like to see it break the 36" mark before it blooms.  The inflorescence is beginning to look very respectable.

The spathe is still green on the inside surface and the last three bracts continue to surround the spathe.  The bracts are beginning to bow outward somewhat and are probably skewing the circumference measurement to a degree.  Bracts number five and four are crispy critters, while bract number three is looking rather dried out and brown around the edges, but isn't quite dead yet.  Two-point-five bracts to go.  :-)

My best guess now is the bloom will occur sometime between June 25 and June 29.

      June 19, 2012  

The inflorescence is 26.0" tall and 15.0" in circumference.Titan Arum 

         June 18, 2012  

The inflorescence is 24.0" tall and 14.0" in circumference.  The spadix is starting to developTitan Arum a pink-ish tint.
I'm looking at developmental benchmarks to try to determine when the spathe will open and stinkify the room:

1. Based on the last bloom, it may open ten days after the spadix emerges from the bracts.  That happened on June 14, which would mean the spathe might open June 24.

2. Based on the last bloom, it may open six days after the spathe starts to turn red.  So far the spathe is still green on the inner surface.  I will keep checking its color daily.

3. it may open one to two days after the last bract falls away.  This event has been a good predictor of the last two blooms.  Three bracts left to go.

So far the weather in the greenhouse has been hot and humid, around 100-104F during the heat of the early afternoon.  The temperature has dropped in the greenhouse to 98F as of 5PM today.  In terms of inflorescence development, I don't know if the heat is a good thing or a bad thing.  I know the other plants in the greenhouse (except the cacti) are not happy about the heat.  I know I'm wilting.

      June 17, 2012  

The inflorescence is 22.0" tall and 13.25" in circumference.Titan Arum

      June 16, 2012  

The inflorescence is 20.25" tall and 12.5" in circumference.Titan Arum
Visitors have been asking how long the bloom will be open.  The plant is a night bloomer and the inflorescence will be open and at its peak for only one evening.  Here's what to expect:

Early to mid afternoon of the day it blooms, the spathe will start to loosen near the top and visitors will notice occasional "puffs" of fragrance coming from the plant.  A few flies will venture into the room to investigate and crawl around on the spadix.  As the day progesses into late afternoon, the spathe will continue to slowly open, reaching its greatest width by about 6PM. 

The aroma will begin to fill the room from about 4PM and continue to intensify through the early evening.  The spadix will actually heat up to human body temperature (about 100F).  Close inspection of the spadix in calm air with the right backlighting may reveal a thin layer of vapor rising along its moist surface.

The inflorescence will be in its greatest glory and most smelly from about 8PM until midnight.  Visitors should be able to smell the plant from (literally) three blocks away.

The spathe will remain open all night and the aroma will gradually decrease in strength as the night progresses.

Early the following morning, around 8AM or earlier, the spathe will slowly start to close.  By 10AM or noon the spathe will be flaccid, mostly closed and there will be very little aroma.  The show will be over.

So, if you visit the greenhouse the day after it blooms, you will have missed it.  Nothing to see here... move along, move along...

That's why its important to monitor the activity on Ustream and/or follow on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.  I'll tweet the progress and as soon as I see the spathe start to loosen I will tweet the alarm!

      June 15, 2012  

The inflorescence is 19.0" tall and 12.0" in circumference.  The spathe is beginning to showTitan Arum above the bracts. 

     June 14, 2012   

The inflorescence is 17.5" tall and 11.0" in circumference.  I rotated the plant this afternoonTitan Arum so the Internet viewers can see the "front" of the plant and have a better view of the emerging spadix. 

For those of you who are wondering, the plant in the background is not another Titan Arum.  It is Amorphophallus konjac (Voodoo Lily), an arum similar to Amorphophallus titanum, but smaller.  Its inflorescence, like the Titan Arum, smells like dead animals.  When it bloomed early this year, the stench was powerful enough to drive me out of the greenhouse.

      June 13, 2012  

This morning I took a peek inside the tip of the bud and saw a wee bit of yellow...  ThisTitan Arum afternoon the spadix poked its little head through.  Yay!  It's an inflorescence!  Based on previous blooms, the inflorescence should open in about ten days, which should make it about June 23-ish.

The inflorescence is 16.5" tall and 10.5" in circumference.  It looks like the bloom will be considerably smaller than past blooms.  But hey, it will still be beautiful.

      June 11, 2012  

In 2010, through a touchy-feely comparison, the developing inflorescence had a soft area nearTitan Arum the base where the peduncle was developing, whereas the leaf that developed later in the year was dense in this area.  The developing inflorescence also exhibited convexity during development while the leaf exhibited concavity during development. Look at this picture to compare the 2010 inflorescence and leaf developing side-by-side at 30" tall.

Now, fast-forward in time to today...

The bud is 15.5" tall and 9.5" in circumference.  Gentle squeezing near the base of the bud indicates a slight gap between the bracts and whatever is inside (peducle maybeeeee?).  The rest of the bud is quite firm to the touch.  Look at this picture.  What do you think? Leaf or inflorescence?
I have some good news.  The chip that broke off the tuber on March 22 is developing a small bud.  No roots yet, but it definitely looks like it will put forth an effort to develop into a plant.  Grow little plant baby, grow!

      June 9, 2012  

The bud is now 13" tall and relatively slim.  I'm beginning to think it may not be developing into an inflorescence.  It is growing far too slowly.  If it was going to bloom, it should be almost twice as tall as it currently is, based on the 2008 bloom, unless the bloom is going to be relatively small. After all, there's no rule in nature that says the inflorescence has to be big.  It just has to be able to get the job done

    June 6, 2012  

The bud is now 12" tall.

   May 30, 2012  

The bud is now 10" tall.

   May 29, 2012  

The bud is now 9" tall and looks like it could very well be developing as an inflorescence.

   May 17, 2012  

The bud is now 5" tall.

   April 1, 2012  

I replaced the medium and put the tuber back in the pot.

    March 22, 2012 

I took the tuber out of its pot and discovered some slimy rot on the bottom.  Yuck!  I cleaned the rot off and put it on the bench in my office to dry and heal for a week or so before repotting.  The tuber weighs 33 lbs. While wrestling the tuber into a large metal tray to transport it, a piece of the tuber about the size of half of a walnut (16.5 grams) chipped off.


I'll let the "chip off the old block" dry and pot it up to see what happens.  Hopefully it will sprout and we'll have another titan baby!

   March 21, 2012  

In mid July, 2010, the Titan Arum tuber broke dormancy.  I removed it from the pot and weighed it.  35 lbs.  Which meant that the tuber lost 10 lbs producing an inflorescence.  The developing leaf bud was rather tall and pointy when it was 30" tall and 10" in circumference in October, 2010. 

The leaf and tuber developed normally until February, 2011 when I noticed a second tuber developing on top of the original one, pushing the petiole off to the side at a 30-degree angle. I dug my hand down into the medium and felt the side of the original tuber.  Spongy and flaccid with no roots.  Not good.  I dug deeper and discovered a 4-inch gap under the tuber separating it from the substrate. The tuber felt mushy on the bottom.  Definitely not good. I excavated below the tuber to let it dry out.  After the tuber had dried sufficiently, I backfilled the cavity with fresh medium and reduced watering to help keep the medium on the dry side.  Eventually, the petiole was forced to a 45-degree angle by the developing tuber, but gravitropism turned the petiole vertical again.

The leaf started to die back in August, 2011 and the tuber went dormant in September, 2011.
The tuber broke dormancy this morning, March 21.  Currently the bud is just a little pip, but hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful inflorescence.  We will just have to wait and see what happens.
I'll keep an eye on it and post pictures and stats as it develops one way or another.

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