During a recent trip back east to visit my friend David Vanadia, we drove around New Jersey and visited a lot of places I had not been to in 30 years. One cold, blustery evening we walked around the streets of Hoboken and stopped in a grocery store to warm up.
This past summer those people in the Portland Oregon / Vancouver, Washington area got a rare treat. Associate Professor of Molecular Biosciences Steve Sylvester had been nurturing this tropical plant in a greenhouse at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus.
Professor Sylvester had originally planted Titan VanCoug in 2002. Usually these plant grow for 7 to 10 years before blooming. This one has been maturing for 17 years.
The blossom is on the small side at just over four feet tall. Short-lived, the flowers wither after about 48 hours. This one was already on the old side when I saw it — you can see the top of the stamen starting to shrivel.
Corpse Flowers are so named because of their feted odor, reminiscent of rotting flesh. This miasma attracts flies which pollinate the plant so that the blossom can produce seeds.
A long cue of people from all over the region waited to see this rare sight. It is estimated that only five or so corpse flowers are in bloom at any given time in the world. After their first flowering, it generally takes four or more years before another bloom.
Titan VanCoug is a name of affection given to this particular plant by Prof. Sylvester. The scientific name for the species is Amorphophallus titanum.
Jonathan Hurst, CTO and Co-Founder of Agility Robotics, poses with Cassie, a bipedal robot. This photograph was taken for an article in Oregon Business Magazine.