VANCOUVER, Washington (KOIN) — A rare event is about to unfold in Vancouver.
A 17-year-old plant is about to bloom for the first time at Washington State University Vancouver but it’s not just any plant — it’s a titan arum, also known as a corpse flower.
The corpse flower is one of the largest and rarest flowering plants in the world with a single bloom emerging after about a decade of growth. After its initial flowering, the plant only graces the world with a bloom once every 4 years or so for the remainder of its 40-year lifespan.
Native to the limestone hills of the Sumatran rainforests, the corpse flower is named for another peculiar trait: its odor, which has been compared to the smell of a rotting animal.
So what’s one of these bizarre plants doing in Vancouver, you ask?
Steve Sylvester, associate professor of molecular biosciences at WSU Vancouver, planted a seed from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s corpse plant in 2002. Sylvester raised the plant in a pot on his desk until it grew too large and had to be moved to a stairwell in one of the buildings on campus.
The university says the plant, affectionately nicknamed “Titan VanCoug,” is likely a late bloomer because part of its structure cloned, delaying the blooming process. Titan VanCoug has also had as many as 4 leaves at once — quite the accomplishment, considering corpse plants only put up one leaf at a time.
The plant is on public display through the end of its bloom. Once the flower opens, it will last between 24 and 48 hours.
Visitors are welcome between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Hours may change if the bloom occurs over the weekend.