Ask An Expert: UWEC Greenhouses

Story by Danielle Ryan

Lab Technician Lynn Janik recently joined The Spectator for a question-and-answer tour through the greenhouses in Phillips Science Hall. All answers are word for word, but were shortened due to space restrictions.

Students can access the Biology greenhouses by taking the South elevator to the fifth floor of Phillips.

Do mainly Biology students use the greenhouse?

“Yes, it’s for Biology students, Biology labs. The plants are raised for labs. We use almost every single plant in here, believe it or not.

But other students are welcome. There was a student who was coming up – a business major – he just loved plants. So he’d just come up here.”

Can you tell me about the different types of plants here?

“First let me say this: two weeks ago I was given the OK to move the plants back in here … All the plants were on the roof!

We just had the floors redone … The water was leaking down to Chemistry (rooms), which was a major problem.

So, I was finally given the OK to put them back, but they’re not all in their proper place yet, and they’re not all cleaned up yet.

So anyway, the greenhouse is not quite normal yet.

This bench has mostly economic plants. Like, this is teosinte, a precursor to corn, and it’s from Mexico. We’ve got other things like sugar cane … a chocolate tree, ginger, cinnamon, avocado, pomegranate … and lots of other plants.

This plant (titan arum) right now is dormant, and I’m hoping that it’s going to be okay. Every time we move it, I worry about it. This is that plant that everyone gets all excited about. It’s a titan arum, and it’s that plant that when it blooms, people come and see it because … it only blooms for a day and it’s got a really big what’s called inflorescence-supposedly the biggest inflorescence in the world. And it really stinks.

It was just tiny when we got it … the greenhouse manager before me got it from Madison. When Madison’s bloomed, the community came and saw it.”

How long have you had this position?

“I’ve worked for three years; this is going on my fourth year.

I am also in charge of the bird museum. We’ve been trying to update some of the displays down there, and actually we’ve had a volunteer from the community and some students too to redo some of the displays. Hopefully at the end of September we’re going to have a little open house.”

— Compiled by Danielle Ryan