Measurement, Hydrophobicity, and Name of the Corpse Flower

Posted on May 2nd, 2007 by

alexsticktitanum050107m.jpgalexsticktitanum050207m.jpgfrom-top-050207m.jpgThe Corpse Flower’s height topped one meter today – our measurement was 102 cm (note the enhanced stick – a two-meter stick rather than a meter stick). Alex, on the other hand, is still roughly the same size that he was a few days ago. The photos are from May 1 and May 2.

Alex has fitted the growth data to an equation; this will be part of his Sigma Xi Research Symposium presentation on Amorphophallus titanum on Friday (May 4).

The greenhouse room in which the Corpse Flower resides appears to be a bit too low in humidity, leading to some browning of the tips of the spathe, so we started misting the inflorescence several times a day with reverse osmosis water from a pump sprayer. This operation revealed a remarkable physicochemical property of the spadix – it is essentially completely water-repellent. Water from the sprayer just bounces off. Some water pools in indentations in the top of the spadix, as can be seen in the photo.

Dan Oachs, a member of our Web Team and one of the operators of the webcams and the creator of the stop-motion videos, asked if the plant had a name, one such as would be given to a pet. This idea was discussed for a while among many students, staff, and faculty, and it was thought that our titanum probably should be named after one of the Titans. This was somewhat problematic, since many of the Titans were not particularly good role models/nice entities. This is Minnesota, after all, so ‘nice’ is, for many, a desirable quality. ‘Cronos’, for instance, was rapidly ruled out (see: ). We settled on ‘Hyperion’, the Titan associated with intellectual activity and observation (see: and ).

Brandy Russell, one of our chemistry faculty members, suggested that “Perry” be used as a nickname for day-to-day discussion of Hyperion. So – Perry it is. Perry the Titan.

See the Titan Arum webcam for a live look at the plant. The image is renewed at five-minute intervals. We now have three cameras linked (distant, top-down, and close-up). The close-up camera will be moved occasionally so as to provide different views.



  1. […] Congratulations Perry! Looks like you just got a nick name. […]

  2. Dan Oachs says:

    Glad to hear that Perry has a name :)

    If anyone else is interested in creating time lapse video of Perry or just want to find a photo of them self with Perry, I have made all of the photos we have taken so far available on my computer.

    I will try to add more every day as long as I have the space and network bandwidth to handle it.

  3. Erika Mennerick says:

    Dear Brian,
    How exciting! I remember you speaking fondly and with such enthusiams for this plant during our chemistry lectures. I’m thrilled that you’re finally going to get to see it.

    I recall your fondness for orchids and think of you occasionally when looking at different varieties. I don’t have many but enjoy my 2 phalaenopsis, 1 paphiopendilum, and 1 oncidium “dancing ladies”.

    I’ll be watching the web cam with anticipation and am somewhat relieved I will be 2 states away when the scent comes to pass (pun intended)!

    Best wishes,
    Dr. Erika (Houtz) Mennerick
    GAC 2001, chemistry major

  4. Chris says:


    Hyperion also happens to be name of the world’s tallest tree. How fitting for this giant of a flower.

    Dr. Chris Ruhland
    MSU Mankato

  5. Brian says:

    Hi Erika,
    It’s great to hear from you, and I’m glad to hear that you’re following the event.

  6. Brian says:

    Chris, thanks for the information. Here are some links on Hyperion the Redwood Tree (378 or 379 feet tall, depending on the source):


    National Geographic video