Rare Corpse Flower Blooms At WSU Vancouver

Photo: Ford, Brad

The rare corpse flower housed at Washington State University Vancouver is in bloom. The university has four plants in one pot. The first bloom occurred in July 2019. The next largest corm is in bloom now.

Titan VanCoug, as it is known on campus, is on display outside the greenhouse at the east end of the Science and Engineering Building. You can learn more about Titan VanCoug by attending a Titan VanCoug Talk at the top of every hour on the patio outside the Dengerink Administration Building.

Come see this rare plant 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. today only. Admission is free. Parking is free today only. The corpse flower is infamous for its odor—comparable to that of a decomposing animal—when it blooms. The bloom will last 24 to 48 hours. You can also see Titan VanCoug via webcam at youtube.com/wsuvancouver

Come prepared with patience. Titan VanCoug’s 2019 bloom attracted 20,000 visitors to campus. Prepare for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, and bring water and snacks. The Crave Fresh Market will be open in the Dengerink Administration Building offering a variety of snacks and beverages for purchase. 

About the corpse flower

The corpse flower (Latin name Amorphophallus titanum, also known as titan arum) is native to the limestone hills of Sumatra, Indonesia’s rainforests, the only place in the world where it naturally grows. They are among the world’s largest and rarest flowering structures. They bloom rarely—typically after seven to 10 years of growth and just once every four years or so afterward throughout a 40-year expected life span. 

A corpse flower’s odor is not without reason. It’s meant to attract pollinators and help ensure the continuation of the species. Dung beetles, flesh flies and other carnivorous insects that typically eat dead flesh are attracted to the corpse flower. 

About Titan VanCoug

Titan VanCoug has been raised by Professor Emeritus Steve Sylvester. He planted a seed from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s titan arum plant, affectionately named Big Bucky, in 2002. He cultivated it in a pot on his desk until it grew too large to contain in such a small space. It has grown in a stairwell in WSU Vancouver’s Science and Engineering Building for some time. 

A late bloomer at 17, Titan VanCoug’s first bloom was most likely delayed because its corm (tuber) cloned. Corpse flowers put up only one leaf at a time. The pot that contains Titan VanCoug has had as many as four leaves showing at once, evidence that four separate corms exist. Today’s bloom is likely from the second largest corm.

Learn more by visiting vancouver.wsu.edu/titan-vancoug-live-bloom

Source: WSU Vancouver

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