Friday, April 30, 2010

April 3oth

Titan was 55 inches tall when measured at 8:00 am. For the third day in a row, it has grown 2.5 inches. Physical Plant resolved their steam supply problems so we had heat back in the greenhouse last night. It stayed at a nice 70° to 75° in the greenhouse all night. I'm sure the Titan appreciated that, I know I did.

I thought I would put this last picture up. It shows the second of our four Titans starting to peak out and put a few roots out. I am hoping it blooms too but will have to wait and see. In the middle picture, this Titan #2 is in the big pot to the left of the Titan in bloom and the smaller Titan in leaf.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29th

Titan was 52.5 inches tall when measured at 8:00 am. That matches yesterday's 2.5 inches of new growth in the previous 24 hour time period. Again, last night there was no steam being supplied to the greenhouse for heating so about 1:30 this morning, I got the backup heater going in the Propagation Room where the Titan is located. That brought the temperature up from 59° to 74° for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28th

Titan was 50 inches tall when measured at 7:30 am. That's 2.5 inches of new growth in the past 24 hour time period. This slow down in growth may be due to night heating problems. The Heating Plant was down all night so not only the greenhouse, but all buildings on campus were not being supplied with steam. So about 2 a.m., when the greenhouse temperature dropped to 59°, I cranked up the portable propane heaters. They brought the temperatures up to 70° to 75° for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27th

Titan was 47.5 inches tall when measured at 8:30 am. That’s 3 inches of new growth in the past 24 hours. Over the past 5 days, it's daily growth rate has been averaging close to 3.5 inches, with it's overall height going from 30.5 inches to 47.5 inches.
Now, for the $64,000.00 question. Most everyone asks me when the Titan’s inflorescence will open? My best guesstimate is in about a week. I am basing this on information from Eastern Illinois University's H.F Thut Greenhouse Manager Steven Malehorn’s detailed account of the 2008 blooming of the Titan Arum he cares for. His Titan is also from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When his was of similar height as our Titan is today, the inflorescence of his fully opened about 7 days later.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26th Pictures

Titan was 44.5 inches tall when measured at 8:30 a.m. That's 3 and 3/4 inches of new growth in the past 24 hours.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25th Pictures

Titan was 40 and 3/4 inches tall when measured at 9:00 a.m. That's 3.5 inches of new growth in the past 24 hours.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24th Pictures

Titan was 37 and 1/4 inches tall when measured at 8:30 a.m. That's 3 and 1/8 inches of new growth in the past 24 hours. This growth amount is not quite as much as the previous time period, but I am assuming this is due to the overcast and rainy weather yesterday causing the greenhouse to be cooler than the previous days.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23rd Pictures

Titan was 34 and 1/8 inches tall when measured at 8:40 a.m. That's 3 and 5/8 inches of new growth in the past 24 hours. As you can see in the picture below, the spadix and spath are really beginning to emerge now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22nd Pictures

Titan was 30.5 inches tall when measured at 8:30 a.m. That's two inches of new growth in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21st Pictures

Titan was 28.5 inches tall when measured at 1:00 p.m. The second picture is taken of the west side showing the spadix and spath making their appearance.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

The WIU Titan Siblings

The Botany Greenhouse has four Titan Arums in it’s collection. All were received from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. All four are shown in this picture., with the flowering one in the background along with two dormant corms, one potted and one not and then the smallest Titan in vegetated condition with not one leaf but two. I do not know why the small one is not the same size as the others but it just has never developed like it’s siblings. It is pretty cool though to have it in all three conditions, dormant, vegetative growth and flowering, at the same time for all to see.

April 16th Picture and Container Information

The Titan was measured to be 21.5 inches in height today. The containers that the Titans are in have an inside diameter of 22 inches and are 17.5 inches deep. They were originally cattle mineral lick containers. After the cows are done with them, I cleaned them and drilled drainage holes. Yeah, free stuff! They are ideal for the Titans and our limited funds and space.

April 15th Picture

April 14th Picture

This is the first day pictures were taken. Up until this time, I was unsure if the new growth was another leaf or a flower.

Titan Arum At WIU And In General

One of the four Titan Arums being grown in the Biological Sciences Botany Greenhouse at Western Illinois University is currently producing it’s first inflorescence. These plants were initially acquired as seed from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2002. One of their Titans, Big Bucky, was the ovule donor and the pollen donor was Mr. Magnificent from the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, Florida. The seeds for both of these plants were collected in 1993 by Dr. James Symon in Sumatra while filming for Sir David Attenborough’s BBC documentary “The Private Life Of Plants.”

The Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is a member of the Araceae Family that includes plants such as, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Calla Lilly, Anthurium, Diffenbachia, Philodendron, and Pothos. It is native to equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra in Indonesia. It was first discovered here in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari. He collected seeds which were provided to England’s Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. They recorded the first bloom of this species in cultivation in 1889. The first bloom of this species in the United States occurred at the New York Botanical gardens in June of 1937.

For most of it’s life, the Titan Arum grows vegetatively producing a single, compound umbrella-like leaf. In the wild this can reach 20 feet tall and 15 feet across. The Titans in the WIU Botany Greenhouse only get about half that in size. This leaf feeds and grows from a corm, which, in the wild can weigh over 200 pounds. The leaf will usually grow for about a year before withering and the plant going dormant. If the corm is of sufficient size, upon cessation of dormancy it may produce an inflorescence instead of another leaf.

The inflorescence is composed of thousands of flowers hidden on the base of the spadix by the large, frilly spath. Female flowers are located on the bottom of the spadix while the male flowers are above. Male flowers release their pollen usually a day after the female flowers are receptive, ensuring cross pollination. The spath has a deep maroon interior. It unfurls 3 to 4 weeks after the bud first appears.

To attract pollinators, the inflorescence emits an odor resembling rotting meat and is strongest at night. In it’s native environment, the Titan Arum is pollinated by carrion beetles and flesh flies. This is why one of its other common names is Corpse Flower.

A Little WIU Botany Greenhouse History

Construction of the WIU Botany Greenhouse began in 1963, then completed and occupied in 1964. It’s main purpose is to provide the plant material needs for various biology classes and labs and provide space for research conducted by biology undergraduate, graduate and faculty. The basic design is three gutter connected ridge and furrow glass houses. Overall, it encloses over 4500 square feet. This area is divided into 5 rooms, the center room, the propagation room, the southwest room, the xeric room and the tropical room. As always, visitors are welcome Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, check out the Greenhouse website.


This blog was set up to initially document the first time flowering of one of the Titan Arums, Amorphophallus titanum, that is being grown in the Western Illinois University Biological Sciences Botany Greenhouse. Other interesting items associated with the Greenhouse will be added over time.