Putrella: The Corpse Flower

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This week Edmontonians were treated to a rare and wondrous occurrence: the blooming of Putrella, aka “the corpse flower” or titan arum. It began in the early hours of Monday morning at the Muttart Conservatory and continued through Tuesday. As of now, the spathe and spadix have begun to wilt and will soon collapse.

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When I caught wind of the news we dropped everything and made our way over to this biological freak-show. Finally, something more exciting to do in this creaky-cold town than ponder the thawing of river ice! We weren’t the only ones attracted by the promise of a stink-bloom. The line-ups to get into the conservatory were up to two hours long. Nothing like the scent of death to pull a crowd, but the smell wasn’t really corspse-like at all. By the time we arrived on Tuesday morning it had the faint odour of dirty diapers. According to corpse-flower security, the scent was strongest in the first few hours of its blooming.

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Originating on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and arriving in Edmonton via Boston, Putrella reached a height of 7.9 feet, 2 feet short of the world record. It began to sprout from the ground in mid-March and in less than forty days grew very quickly to its current height. After meeting Putrella, I wandered around and discovered a much more pleasing sight in a totally different climate-zone…

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