- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (AP) - A rare tropical plant that blooms only about every nine years is set to open anytime now at a Mississippi university’s research station.

The titan arum will soon be in full flower at Mississippi State University’s South Mississippi Branch Station, according to the Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/29ag13O ).

This is the first time the titan arum at the station has flowered.

Associate research professor Gene Blythe says the plant is native to Sumatra and is the largest flower cluster in the world.

The titan arum is on special public display at the station until flowering has ended. The public can also watch the progress on a webcam the university has set up.

Mississippi State grew the plant from a seedling given to it by the University of Mississippi.

The plant is more than 5 feet tall. Blythe says the flower will be a burgundy-purple color when it opens and it will have an odor.

“One of these nights now, it’s going to unfurl,” Blythe said. “Every year the plant will produce one single leaf that will be 8 feet tall until instead of producing a leaf, it will flower, which is what it is doing now.

But the bloom won’t last long. Blythe says the flowers usually bloom late afternoon or evening, but stay open for about a day.

“When it opens up it might be 2- to 3-feet wide,” he said. “It will smell. It will smell poorly.”

The flower’s stink is similar to rotting meat, which attracts pollinating beetles in the plant’s native habitat. Once the flower dies, the plant will enter dormancy and eventually resume its annual production of a single leaf.

To see the plant on the web go to: https://extension.msstate.edu/spikecam .


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com



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