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Corpse flower is not dead to the university

By Jane Streeter and Victoria Slater
On April 11, 2013

A rare flower bloomed in Western's Belk Greenhouse on Miami University's campus Tuesday evening. Scientifically known as the titan arum, but more commonly called 'the corpse flower' for its unmistakable odor, greenhouse manager and botany professor John Keegan said it is one of less than 200 to have bloomed via cultivation since it was scientifically described in 1878.

Keegan said such a rare feat will earn Miami a place in history among the likes of the Kew Gardens in London, England, the Botanic Garden in Bonn, Germany and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia.

Keegan described the flower's odor, likening it to that of rotting mammals, hence the colloquial name, 'the corpse flower.' According to him, the flower evolved to smell that way in order to attract pollinators and insects, which the flower then feeds upon.

Keegan said the flower may only bloom for as little as 24 hours, but that students currently can still see its open petals.

"The flower is still open, but it is dying down a bit," he said.

While the flower is in bloom, appointments to the greenhouse are not necessary, and Keegan said he just wants students be able to see the unique flower while they can.

"The greenhouse has been open 8am [and while] it blooms, we will stay open until 10 to 11 p.m.," he said.

Junior Allison Norenberg expressed her excitement about the blooming flower.

"The flower seems like a really delightful thing to take a walk to go see," Norenberg said. "All my free time will be spent looking at that flower ... I don't get to smell rotting meat very often."

However, it's not just students that should take the opportunity to see it while they can. This particular flower has been growing for over 12 years, and is drawing gardeners, flower enthusiasts and rancid meat lovers to the Boyd Hall Greenhouse for miles, according to Keegan.

"We've had over 3,000 people in the greenhouse this week," Keegan said.

The flower can also grow to reach 20 feet tall and 16 feet wide, according to Keegan, and may be another reason why so many people have visited it. He said that the specimen, in addition to the attention it has garnered throughout the past week, has had an impact on the university as big as the flower itself.

"The effect it has had has just been amazing, for both the community and the university," he said.


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