Corpse flower on WSU Vancouver campus about to bloom again
VANCOUVER, Wash. (KPTV) - The corpse flower located on the Washington State University Vancouver campus is about to bloom again. It took almost two decades for the first bloom in 2019, but now the university is just a week or two away from the second bloom.
The corpse flower, which got its name because it smells like a decomposing animal or rotting fish, is behind lock and key, hidden away in a campus building until it’s ready for showtime. Until then, Biologist Dawn Freemen tends to it. She knew something was up a month ago when all of a sudden the corpse flower started growing several inches a day.
“Something about it grew five inches,” she said.
It was Professor Steve Sylvester who first planted the flower’s seed about 20 years ago. The plants are from Sumatra and are now extremely rare, perhaps just a thousand exist in the entire world.
“They’re in decline and threatened in their native environment, and I just always wanted to see one and smell one,” said Sylvester.
Growing the flower wasn’t easy. It took 17 years for the first bloom and along the way, the plant appeared to die and revive itself repeatedly. Sylvester says the wait was worth it. The plant fascinates him.
“Until they reach some stage and they decide it’s time to do this - what you see here has grown in less than 30 days. That in less than 30 days, that is utterly amazing,” Sylvester explained.
It takes a lot of energy for the corpse flower to grow and bloom. Last time Sylvester tried to predict the bloom, he was a week off.
“This plant is very unpredictable. You take your best shot,” he said.
This year’s corpse flower is bigger than the university’s last one. It smells only when it blooms, and that stink is to attract pollinators. The plant will heat up to about 90 degrees, that heat helps spread that corpse-like smell.
When the plant blooms, the public will be allowed to see it. Last time it bloomed, people waited as long as three hours to see it - and smell it.
WSU Vancouver says it will let the public know so they can visit, and they also say parking on campus will be free that day.
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