Flower to blossom amid weekend heat

Steven Malehorn expects Eastern to smell like road kill by Friday.

Malehorn, who manages the university’s H.F. Thut Greenhouse on Seventh Street, predicts that the facility’s titan arum flower will finally bloom by the weekend.

Nicknamed the “corpse flower,” the plant attracts many visitors because of its putrid smell.

While Malehorn originally predicted the titan arum to blossom on June 13, he now says he is confident the plant will emerge by Friday afternoon.

“If you want to know how it smells, the next time you see a dead animal on the side of the road, stop and take a whiff,” Malehorn said. “Literally, it smells like a dead animal.”

After emerging, Malehorn said the plant’s distinctive scent will encompass a significant area of Eastern’s campus.

“The plant bloomed in 2008 and 2010, and we had people saying they could smell it three blocks away,” he said.

Malehorn said the plant’s smell can actually be more intense from further away.

“The other plants in the greenhouse can sometimes mask the smell,” he said.

Malehorn said a few people have wandered in to the greenhouse to see the plant, but expects many more visitors once the flower blossoms this weekend.

Malehorn said there is currently a live video feed of the flower online, but he plans to take the site down once the plant blossoms.

He also advised that people visit the greenhouse in the late evening or at night, stating that triple-digit temperature forecasts can make the greenhouse unbearably hot during the daytime.

“It’s usually about 15 degrees hotter inside the greenhouse than it is outside,” he said. “That means that if it’s supposed to be 104 degrees this weekend, it could be 119 degrees in the greenhouse.” Malehorn said even he avoids working in the greenhouse during the day.

He said he tries to water the plants during the morning or early evening, as a means of avoiding what he said was “brutal” heat.

While the flower has bloomed twice in the last four years, Malehorn said he does not know if that pattern will necessarily continue.

“Every plants has its own personality and growing conditions,” he said. “They all blossom at different intervals.”

Malehorn said the titan arum’s growth can never really be predicted.

“At Kew Gardens, they waited ten years for theirs to bloom the first time, and then waited another 35 years for the second,” he said.

However, Malehorn said Eastern has been very fortunate to have the flower bloom to frequently.

“Either I’m really lucky, I’m treating the plant very well, or it just hates me and really wants to get out of this place,” he said.

John Downen can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected]