Devil's Tongue Flower Blooms in Greenhouse

After eight years on campus, a unique flower in the University Greenhouse has bloomed for the first time.

The Devil’s Tongue flower began blooming about two weeks ago and is believed to be at the peak of its bloom with an estimated size of two feet in height and six inches in diameter. It shares the same genus as the Corpse Flower currently blooming at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

This plant is one of two Devil’s Tongue flowers located in the University Greenhouse, but is the first one to bloom. Tony Wilmes, a biology lab technician, said these particular flowers take a long time to mature, and only bloom about once every 10 years.

The Devil’s Tongue is available for public viewing, but visitors should be prepared for an atypical flower experience. Whereas most flowers release a sweet smell to attract bees and other insects for the purpose of pollination, the Devil’s Tongue uses flies to pollinate, and therefore smells similar to a dead animal. That particular quality is one of the main reasons the University has the Devil’s Tongue flower.

“Its a good specimen to demonstrate a different sort of pollinating method,” Wilmes said.

In fact, while a small section of the Greenhouse is allocated for research, a majority of the facility is used for teaching purposes.

Aside from the pungent Devil’s Tongue, the Greenhouse is home to more traditional flowers. Currently there are several orchids in bloom. It also contains some banana trees and several pitcher plants, which are carnivorous plants that trap and digest insects.

The University Greenhouse is typically available for public viewing between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the week. Visits can also be arranged through the Biology Department Office located in Magruder Hall 2004, or by calling 660.785.4597.

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The Devil's Tongue flower in bloom at the University Greenhouse. In July 2013, the flower bloomed for the first time in eight years.