Dougsley the Corpse Flower arrived on the scene at the Conservatory on August 20, 2016. It arrived on loan from the University of Washington Biology Department, and was a scant 20″ when it was put on display in the Seasonal house.
Its name, Dougsley paid homage to Doug Ewing, retired botanist at the University of Washington department, and “father” of many of the corpse plants which have bloomed at the Conservatory and University of Washington for the past few years.
After two weeks, Dougsley had undergone a rigorous growth spurt, averaging an inch of growth each day. Dougsley, reached a final height of 35 1/2″ and on August 31, 2016, began to open its bloom.
The smell was intense, and the news crews were summoned. People came from far-and-wide to experience the stench and catch of glimpse of the monstrous flower.
But just as Dougsley was starting to unfurl its crimson spathe and blossom fragrantly into the night, it stopped… No more growth, no more opening, no more stench!
At first, it was thought that growth had simply slowed, and would pick surely pick up the next day. However, after two days the spathe started shrivelling back around its spadix into to the closed position and it was determined that Dougsley was not likely to complete its bloom cycle.
Dougsley appears to have been a dud, and the wilting blossom was removed from the Conservatory.
However, Dougsley the plant is by no means dead. The corm, (or tuber) from which the corpse plant bloomed is alive and will continue to grow and produce new vegetation next year.
Senior Garden David Helgeson provided a few guesses as to why Dougsley may not have completed its bloom cycle.
- The change to cooler temperatures were a shock to the plant, and it halted the bloom
- At 12-years-old, Dougsley was a young specimen, and it is possible that it simply hadn’t stored enough energy from the sun throughout its vegetative cycles to sustain a complete bloom.
- There are genetic variables present among all plants which can lead to unsuccessful completion of bloom cycles which are difficult to predict.
The crew at the UW Biology Department will continue to study Dougsley as we learn more about the life cycle of this rare and mysterious giant.
While we regret that Dougsley didn’t reach its full potential, we want to thank everyone for their interest and curiosity in the corpse plant and Volunteer Park Conservatory! We hope everyone who visited learned a lot, and took home some new memories,
Better luck next time, Dougsley!