Greenhouse to showcase rare plants

Abelson is full of some of rarest, oldest, strangest plants for moms, students to enjoy this weekend



Maddy Lucas, junior and Abelson Greenhouse faculty member, explains some of the plants in the greenhouse. She described how, in the midst of busier Mom’s Weekend events, the greenhouse can serve as a more relaxed atmosphere.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

Trying to make it to all the busy events over Mom’s Weekend can be overwhelming. The staff at the Abelson Greenhouse hope to help relieve students and their moms of some of this stress.

Junior Maddy Lucas has worked at the greenhouse for just under a year, and believes this open house can be a sanctuary for moms and Cougs looking to participate in a more relaxed activity.

“Mom’s weekend is super crowded, and there’s lots of mom drama,” Lucas said. “Coming up here, we do get a lot of foot traffic, but you’re not fighting crowds and trying to beat the masses.”

Chuck Cody, plant growth facilities manager for the School of Biological Sciences, runs the greenhouse and has since it opened in 1985. He began the Mom’s Weekend open house himself when he saw other activities in the open-house style.

Chuck Cody, plant growth facilities manager for the School of Biological Sciences, has been in charge of the greenhouse since it opened in 1985.

“This is a very cheery place where students can show their moms what they’re learning about in class,” Cody said. “Lots of moms are really interested in plants, and some years I’ve answered so many questions I’ve lost my voice.”

The greenhouse is the only botanical collection in this part of the state, and has an eclectic variety of plants that all have some kind of instructional use, Cody said. When people tour the greenhouse, however, they’re most interested in the weird, the rare and the old.

Both Cody and Lucas said many young children enjoy the Mimosa pudica, a sensitive plant with leaves that fold in on themselves when touched.

The rarest plant in the greenhouse grows in the coastal regions of Africa, and gets all its water from fog coming off the ocean. The Welwitschia mirabilis only grows two large leaves over its lifetime. These droop off to its sides and grow to be a few feet wide and several feet long.

Cody said in his 33 years giving tours around the greenhouse, only one tour member ever guessed the oldest plant correct. The Rhipsalis plant, a type of cactus that grows high in the trees of rain forests, is more than 40 years old.

The greenhouse will be open to the public from 2 – 5 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“This is a great place to take a breather between events,” Lucas said. ‘Take off your coat and pretend you’re somewhere tropical while looking at some really interesting stuff.”