Science teacher Christopher “CJ” Addington from Roseville High School near Sacramento has been having a very busy few weeks. As manager of the school greenhouse he has been in charge of tending to the schools three Corpse Flowers, two of which decided to bloom this month.
Corpse flowers are large and smelly flowers. When they are in bloom their stench has been compared to a rotting corpse, hence the morbid name! Roseville High School is quite famous for their Corpse Flowers and in 2011 they were the first high school in the world to bring the flower to bloom.
Playfully called Thing Two, their first Corpse Flower bloom of 2020 was on September 11th. A webcam was set up that streamed live over YouTube and a text alert system was set up to let people know when the flower had finally opened. Corpse Flowers open and close in one day so keeping the community up to date on the flower’s status was important. When the flower finally opened hundreds of community members came out, in a socially distanced manner, to view Thing Two in all its stinky glory.
CJ had seen time lapses of other people’s Corpse Flower blooms online and was impressed with how cool they all looked. While the plants bloom, they grow extremely fast and the flowers only last a single day. Time lapse was the perfect medium to capture the flower’s animal like movements. While looking on Amazon for camera options he came across the Brinno TLC200Pro and after reading a few reviews knew that this was the perfect camera for this project.
“Anyone who missed the bloom in person can go see the video and get an idea of what it was like.” - CJ Addington
A few days after Thing Two finished blooming, CJ noticed that another one of their Corpse Flowers was starting to bloom as well. The second bloom is named Corona, however funnily enough the plant was named back in 2017 after the solar eclipse. No one expected the name to hold so much significance three years later! Right now Corona’s text alert system has around 800 subscribers. CJ expects the flower to open up in the next two weeks.
Fun fact: Corpse Flowers change their sex overnight. When they first open they are female and receptive to pollen, but during the night they change to male and start making pollen instead. So they open female, and close male – pretty cool!
Roseville High School’s greenhouse is named after Gene Domek, a Biology who taught at Roseville for nearly 30 years. He was very passionate about plants and their ability to educate students in a hands on environment. Gene retired in 2015 but tragically passed away from cancer in 2016. His legacy as an educator has lived on through the greenhouse at Roseville High.
The greenhouse sits in the center of campus and is around 420 square feet. It’s fully automated with automatic lights, heating, cooling and watering. CJ joked that with all the automation it’s perfect for busy teachers! In addition to housing three Corpse Plants, the greenhouse is used to grow plants for science labs like wheatgrass for acid rain experiments. There are also quite a few food plants like a coffee bush, chocolate tree, pineapple, and herbs to show students where their food comes from.
If you’re in the Roseville area and want to be alerted when Corona blooms text “corpseflower” to 52855. Corona’s progression can be watched live on YouTube and CJ’s Flicker account is home to lots photos of Corona and Thing Two.