PERRY MANIA is invading Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
OK, that may be a bit of a stretch. You decide, But interest in the predicted early November blooming of Perry, otherwise known as the “corpse flower,” is strong.
Think web cams, “featured news” on the college website, headlines in the St. Peter Herald, a Perry blog and even Perry themed t-shirts, cap, mugs, tote bag, bumper sticker and other merchandise available for purchase.
And all of this because the rare tropical plant, a native of Sumatra in Indonesia and with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, is about to blossom.
This mammoth plant, which can reach heights of eight to 10 feet and a life span of 40 years, is noted for its distinct rotting flesh/rotting meat odor.
Three years ago, my husband, son and I were among the 5,000 plus curious who flocked to the third floor greenhouse in the Nobel Hall of Science to view, and smell, the Amorphophallus titanum, aka Titan Arum. Gustavus named its plant, seeded in 1993, after the Titan Hyperion, associated with intellectual curiosity. That would be Perry, for short.
I don’t recall the precise smell of Perry only 12 hours after the plant began blooming in late July 2010. But I do remember thinking the odor was not nearly as bad as I had imagined and that I’ve smelled worse (like a slurry pit being emptied) while traveling through rural Minnesota.
But others, such as elementary-aged kids from Edina, pressed perfumed bandannas to their noses.
To see, and smell, a corpse flower in bloom is a rare opportunity, one limited to only a few days. This marks Perry’s third blooming. And there isn’t exactly an abundance of these plants in the world, one of the reasons Gustavus botanists are invested in conservation of the Titan Arum. Gustavus received 20 Titan Arum seeds from a San Francisco physician in 1993 and Perry is the result.
Is Perry worth seeing, worth smelling, worth photographing? Definitely.
If you’re hypersensitive to odors, though, pack your perfumed bandanna.
FYI: As early November nears, be sure to check the Gustavus Adolphus website (click here) often for updates on Perry and the precise date when blooming is expected. Some Facebook fans are predicting blossoming on Halloween or even earlier.