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Corpse lily ready to bloom

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 10:45
Dougsley poses with friends before settling in at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Visitors to Seattle’s Volunteer Park Conservatory are in for a stinking treat, courtesy of the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. The conservatory has taken in a young corpse lily while the university awaits the 2018 opening of a new greenhouse facility in the Life Sciences Complex. The young plant, affectionately known as Dougsley, is set to blossom this week or next.

Dougsley takes its name from Doug Ewing, who managed the former greenhouse next to Kincaid Hall for 31 years before retiring in 2014. Ewing first brought corpse lilies to the greenhouse in the 1990s, and the UW’s first corpse flower opened in 1999. In 2004 two different corpse lilies bloomed at the same time, allowing Ewing to remove pollen from one plant — grown from a wild seed — and pollinate the flower of the other plant — grown from seed obtained from a German botanic garden. Dougsley is the first plant from that pairing to become sufficiently mature to bloom.