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Phil in Bloom

By the time you all read these words, the infamous Corpse Flower named Phil may have bloomed. The smelly plant, named Phil, after former professor of botany Phil Baker, lives at the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach, aka Long Beach State, aka Cal State Long Beach. Phil only blooms once every seven to fifteen years. And when he does bloom he only stays that way for twenty-four hours. It is this rarity, combined with the appearance of the plant, aka the Corpse Lily, aka the Titan Arum, scientific name *Amorphophallus titanium*, which has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, that makes the blooming such a special event.

(If, like, me, you don’t know what the hell an “inflorescence” is, it is, according to Wikipedia: “a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Morphologically, it is the modified part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed.” So there.)

Oh, and then there’s the smell. The smell also makes the blooming of the Corpse Flower a unique occurrence. Reportedly it smells like, well, the name probably should tip you off. Interestingly, the flower doesn’t smell so strongly during the day. It really reeks at night, which is when the kinds of insects it wants to attract, the kinds drawn to the odor of rotting flesh, are most active.

TheCheezman • June 2, 2019


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