(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Chanel, UC Santa Barbara's corpse flower, has finally spread her odiferous wings, broadcasting a stench that smells like a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese. "It's disgusting," said UCSB junior Connor Way, who visited Wednesday morning. "It's pretty nasty."
Other visitors said Chanel smelled like "French cheese" or "a dead rat in a wall." Alex Feldwinn, a computer technician in the Life Science Computing Group at UCSB said, "It really smells like a dead animal not just a dead animal, but a rotting one." Edith Ogella, a longtime Santa Barbara resident, said, "It's breathtaking."
The entire community has been holding its collective breath waiting for UCSB's Amorophallus titanum, its proper botanic name, to bloom. "This is a rare occurrence under cultivation and even rarer in its native Sumatra, where the deforestation of equatorial rainforests has wreaked havoc on its habitat," said UCSB biology greenhouse manager Danica Taber.
Hundreds of visitors to UCSB's greenhouse can now tick off on their bucket list seeing and smelling a Titan Arum. "We've been visiting in Santa Barbara for a month," said David Cooper, who lives in Phoenix. "We came last week but couldn't leave until we saw it in bloom."
Discovered in 1878 by the Florentine botanist Odoardo Beccarini, the Titan Arum, another common name given the plant by Sir David Attenborough in his BBC nature documentary series, heats up as it blooms in order to disperse its "perfume" hence the moniker Chanel. Heat enables the smell to go farther, attracting more pollinating insects and increasing the chance of pollination.
An infrared camera from Goleta-based FLIR captured time-sequence thermal photography of Chanel as her spadix, the tall core spike that houses both female and male flowers, heated up to nearly human body temperature. The plant's temperature began to rise at 7 p.m. Tuesday night and peaked at 95.5F at 12:23 a.m. We
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University of California - Santa Barbara