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Morphy, the College's corpse flower, blooms early

Jan 02, 2019   |   The Dartmouth

"This past weekend marks the third time 'Morphy' [Dartmouth’s very own Amorphophallus titanum] has flowered in the Life Sciences Center," writes The Dartmouth. "Morphy first bloomed in early July 2011, and again five years later during mid-Sept. 2016.

"In the wild, the plant flowers every seven to 10 years; however, in captivity, the plant tends to bloom every five to seven years.

"'It’s very unusual that it’s flowering after essentially only two years,' said engineering professor Jane Hill, who is researching Morphy in addition to performing engineering research. ...

... "Hill has been conducting research on Morphy with Lab Manager Kelsey Coyne and Daniella Kubiak '20. With the help of a thermal imaging camera and temperature recording devices called thermocouples, they are measuring the temperature up the spathe.

"'We’re trying to get a really good measure of the temperature change over time, and then we want to relate that to the volatile chemicals that are being emitted,' Hill said. 'It’s applicable because if you know which smells attract which bugs, it could help in forensics where they are very interested in figuring out when someone died and how long corpse has been there.'

"Their research focuses on breath analysis to diagnose patients with tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis. By using the same technology, they are analyzing the volatiles released over time by Morphy."

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