Enormous, rare corpse flower makes pungent debut at IU Bloomington

Amorphophallus titanium photo by David Snodgress

On July 14, IU’s Jordan Hall Greenhouse director sent out a message that the Department of Biology’s rare titan arum (or “corpse flower”) was expected to bloom.

An extremely rare, large flower with a pungent odor that rarely blooms, corpse flowers often attract large crowds at major botanical gardens. This was the first bloom of the IU plant, which was acquired in 2009.

On July 19, the IU Newsroom posted a story about the flower to the Science at Work news blog, which was shared on university’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The IU Newsroom also sent out several tips to members of the media in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

IU’s flower was also mentioned in several national media reports, many of which also referenced other corpse flower blooms occurring at other sites across the country:

Social media also played a large role in driving interest in the flower. IU’s initial blog post on the bloom received over 13,000 page views from July 19 to Aug. 3, largely driven by social media. As of Aug. 2, IU’s Facebook posts about the flower (on July 20 and July 30) had reached over 150,000 unique users and had been shared over 375 times.

Other social media stats include over 5,100 “likes” on two posts to the IU Bloomington Instagram account (on July 29 and July 30) and 518 “likes” and 290 “retweets” on numerous updates (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) to the IU Bloomington and IU Science News Twitter accounts. There are also two time-lapse videos of the bloom on YouTube. The first, posted July 26, had received 4,656 views as of Aug. 4.

The IU Bloomington Department of Biology also set up a livestream on the flower from Jul 20 to Aug. 2. IU Collaborative Technologies estimates the player page was loaded 115,585 times during the bloom, with visits from 96 different countries. The IU Bloomington Department of Biology Facebook page also posted daily updates on the bloom.

A second IU story about the crowds who showed up to visit the flower during its brief bloom (estimated at over 5,000 people) is online at the Science at Work blog.

WBAA in West Lafayette, Ind. ran a segment about corpse flowers blooming in Washington, D.C; New York, NY; and Bloomington, Ind., on Aug. 5. The peice included an online video.

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