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Aug 01, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

‘Chanel,’ UCSB’s Corpse Flower Blooms

UC Santa Barbara’s corpse flower finally bloomed
(Photo : UCSB) UC Santa Barbara’s corpse flower finally bloomed

'Chanel,' the corpse flower at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) has finally bloomed, spreading a stench throughout the campus. Visitors said that the scent of the flower is a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese; French cheese or 'a dead rat in a wall.'

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"It's disgusting," said UCSB junior Connor Way, who visited Wednesday morning. "It's pretty nasty."

Titan Arum, the rainforest plant is a native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.

"This is a rare occurrence under cultivation and even rarer in its native Sumatra, where the deforestation of equatorial rainforests has wreaked havoc on its habitat," said Danica Taber, UCSB biology greenhouse manager.

These plants have a lifespan of 40 years and flower a maximum of three times. They remain in bloom for 24 to 48 hours and then begin to close up and wither. Worldwide, there have been about 175 blooms since the flower was first discovered in the late 1800s.

The flower spreads its smell by raising its temperature, attracting insects and increasing the chance of pollination. Titan Arum heats up by burning carbohydrates. These carbs are stored in an underground modified storage tissue. The entire process requires a lot of energy, which is why the flower blooms once in a blue moon.

Life Cycle of the Titan Atrum
(Photo : UCSB)
Life Cycle of the Titan Atrum

The blossoming of the UCSB's Amorophallus titanium (botanic name) was captured via an infra-red camera. The images revealed its core temperature rising up to match the temparatures of the human body. The temperatures began rising on Tuesday evening and reached its peak by Wednesday morning.

"The data provided by this series of photographs will help us understand how the Titan Arum uses thermal energy to attract pollinators," said Taber.

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