A smelly bloom known as the corpse flower is expected to make its odiferous presence known in the coming week, according to the San Diego Botanic Garden.
It will be the first time the endangered flower has bloomed since 2018, according to the Encinitas garden, and once it does so, it only lasts for about 48 hours.
Called Amorphophallus titanum among professionals, the flower nonetheless takes its familiar name from its odor. Garden officials describe it as “a rancid carrion scent that attracts the carcass-eating insects that pollinate it.”
So not appetizing, but well-timed this year to Halloween, when the specter of a corpse induces (fun) chills, not fear.
In addition, most of the plants require seven to ten years to produce their first blooms, and then repeat the process only every four to five years.
“The corpse flower is the rock star diva of the plant world,” said garden president and CEO Ari Novy, PhD. “We never know exactly when it’s going to perform, but when it does, it’s the most amazing show in all of horticulture.”
The public can watch a 24-hour live stream of the garden’s 14-year-old plant, which grows as much as six inches per day, or purchase tickets to see it in person at the garden’s Dickinson Family Education Conservatory. The plant’s bloom also coincides with the garden’s Fall Festival, which continues through Nov. 1.
It’s not just the corpse flower’s smell that is unique.
The spike of the corpse plant is the longest unbranched flower spike of any plant in the world. The massive spike, up to 12 feet tall in the wild, opens to reveal two rings of flowers.
The flower, also known as titan arum, grows on the Indonesia island, Sumatra, with fewer than 1,000 plants remaining in the wild.
In order to expand the shallow genetic pool of this rarely blooming plant, the garden manually pollinates it using pollen collected and donated by the Huntington Botanical Gardens.
The garden also is working with the Chicago Botanic Garden and other such venues to conserve the plant through the Tools and Resources for Endangered and Exceptional Plant Species project.