Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chanel, UCSB's corpse flower, blooms and causes a big stink

Date:
July 31, 2013
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Chanel, UC Santa Barbara's corpse flower, has finally spread her odiferous wings, broadcasting a stench that smells like a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese. "It's disgusting," said UCSB junior Connor Way, who visited Wednesday morning. "It's pretty nasty."

UCSB greenhouse manager Danica Taber with Chanel, the Titan Arum.
Credit: George Foulsham

Chanel, UC Santa Barbara's corpse flower, has finally spread her odiferous wings, broadcasting a stench that smells like a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese. "It's disgusting," said UCSB junior Connor Way, who visited Wednesday morning. "It's pretty nasty."

Related Articles


Other visitors said Chanel smelled like "French cheese" or "a dead rat in a wall." Alex Feldwinn, a computer technician in the Life Science Computing Group at UCSB said, "It really smells like a dead animal -- not just a dead animal, but a rotting one." Edith Ogella, a longtime Santa Barbara resident, said, "It's breathtaking."

The entire community has been holding its collective breath waiting for UCSB's Amorophallus titanum, its proper botanic name, to bloom. "This is a rare occurrence under cultivation and even rarer in its native Sumatra, where the deforestation of equatorial rainforests has wreaked havoc on its habitat," said UCSB biology greenhouse manager Danica Taber.

Hundreds of visitors to UCSB's greenhouse can now tick off on their bucket list seeing -- and smelling -- a Titan Arum. "We've been visiting in Santa Barbara for a month," said David Cooper, who lives in Phoenix. "We came last week but couldn't leave until we saw it in bloom."

Discovered in 1878 by the Florentine botanist Odoardo Beccarini, the Titan Arum, another common name given the plant by Sir David Attenborough in his BBC nature documentary series, heats up as it blooms in order to disperse its "perfume" -- hence the moniker Chanel. Heat enables the smell to go farther, attracting more pollinating insects and increasing the chance of pollination.

An infrared camera from Goleta-based FLIR captured time-sequence thermal photography of Chanel as her spadix, the tall core spike that houses both female and male flowers, heated up to nearly human body temperature. The plant's temperature began to rise at 7 p.m. Tuesday night and peaked at 95.5F at 12:23 a.m. Wednesday morning. "The data provided by this series of photographs will help us understand how the Titan Arum uses thermal energy to attract pollinators," said Taber.

The Titan Arum heats up by burning carbohydrates stored in its corm, an underground stem that has been modified into storage tissue. The enormous amount of energy expended during this process limits the time the Titan can bloom, which explains why it only blooms for a couple of days and doesn't bloom annually.

Chanel is only the second Titan Arum to bloom at UCSB. Tiny, Chanel's mother, bloomed once in 2002 before dying. The wait for UCSB's next bloom from this giant Sumatran cousin to the common philodendron may not be as long as the wait for Chanel to bloom. Chanel is about to become a mother.

Staff at the UCSB biology greenhouse had the foresight to contact the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., to secure pollen from its plant (nicknamed Mortimer in social media) that bloomed July 21. While Chanel was in heat last night, greenhouse staff applied the pollen donated to the female flowers.

Once pollinated, female flowers develop into olive-sized bright orange-red fruits that are carried in cylindrical clusters up to half a meter long. Inside the fruits are one or two seeds that -- with tender care and an abundance of patience -- can develop into the corms from which the Titan Arums grows. Five to seven years down the road, Chanel's offspring could possibly bloom.

"Any seeds that Chanel and Mortimer produce from their cross-continent union will help further conservation efforts for this bizarre, majestic, and threatened plant," Taber said.

"There are 300,000 different species of flowering plants and the corpse flower is one of the most extreme examples of how evolution can result in extreme flowers and pollination systems," said Scott Hodges, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. "This is a tremendous opportunity to show students and the general public about plant diversity and biology in general. And there are other teaching opportunities, such as showing conservation students how we can go about keeping endangered species from going extinct by reproducing them in greenhouses such as ours here at UCSB."

The UCSB greenhouse will be open this evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Please check Chanel's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ChanelTheTitanArum) for updates on visiting hours. Admission is free. Titan Arum signs will direct visitors to Lot 18, where parking costs $5 for two hours. From there, Titan Arum signs will guide visitors from Lot 18 to the greenhouse.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Chanel, UCSB's corpse flower, blooms and causes a big stink." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731164800.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2013, July 31). Chanel, UCSB's corpse flower, blooms and causes a big stink. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731164800.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Chanel, UCSB's corpse flower, blooms and causes a big stink." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731164800.htm (accessed December 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nevada Farmer Uses Goats to 'recycle' Christmas Trees

Nevada Farmer Uses Goats to 'recycle' Christmas Trees

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 27, 2014) A Nevada goat farmer partners up with a local fire department to 'recycle' discarded Christmas trees. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breeding Christmas Trees Without Needle Mess

Breeding Christmas Trees Without Needle Mess

AP (Dec. 26, 2014) The presents are unwrapped. Now it's time for another Yuletide tradition: cleaning up the needles that are falling off your Christmas tree. Scientist hope to make that process a ghost of Christmas past. (Dec. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Venemous White Cobra Gets New Home

Venemous White Cobra Gets New Home

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 24, 2014) A venemous white cobra gets a new home at the San Diego Zoo, following a dramatic capture and months of quarantine. Sharon Reich reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Newsy (Dec. 24, 2014) The National Christmas Tree Association says bugs in trees are a relatively small problem, but recommends giving your tree a good shake anyway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins