Scientists at NC State University watched a tropical plant closely as it bloomed in late September 2016, sending out not just a big flower – one of the largest in the plant kingdom – but a big stink as well.
How a Corpse Flower Took Root at NC State
Brandon Huber, a Horticultural Sciences student pursuing his doctoral degree at NC State, received his titan arum nine years ago when he was visiting the Huntington Botanical Gardens in California. Then, it was a dormant four-year old corm, an underground stem about the size of a softball. The corm has since grown to 51 pounds. Huber brought the titan arum with him to NC State.
This was the plant’s first bloom, and it came amid a rash of corpse flower blooms nationwide in recent months. About 400 Amorphophallus titanum blooms have occurred in cultivation in the past 127 years, when the first bloomed in London.
Huber and Diane Mays, who curates the greenhouse conservatory where the plant is held, both said this was a once-in-a-lifetime event for plant lovers. “I feel like I have a front row seat. To have it in our region and our greenhouse, we feel very special,” Mays says. “It’s such a spectacular plant.”
A Howlingly Pungent Flower Named Lupin
To honor the plant’s connection to NC State, Huber has named it Lupin, after Remus Lupin, a werewolf from the Harry Potter series whose name comes from the Latin word meaning wolf. In addition to watching the live stream video on this site, you can follow the plant’s progress on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #Lupin2016.
Huber has made arrangements to pollinate his plant using pollen from a titan arum that bloomed at the University of Wisconsin a few weeks ago. If that pollination is successful, he could have blooming offspring in about a decade.
About Brandon Huber
Brandon has been growing plants since early childhood and as a teen won several prizes for aroid plants he entered in for the Philadelphia Flower Show. Aroids are members of the Araceae family of plants, sometimes known as the Philodendron or Arum family.
Huber’s masters research at NC State focused on breeding stevia, a natural sugar substitute. And now as a Ph.D. student, Huber focuses on controlled environment horticulture, where he studies optimization of vegetable seedlings for grafting using supplemental carbon dioxide and altered light spectrum to increase affordability of production.