Stinky plant offers rare bloom

Stinky plant offers rare bloom
Amorphophallus titanium, known as ‘Corpse Flower,’ shown in September 2017, is expected to be in bloom this weekend at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Photo by Rachel Cobb

 Sometimes flowers stink.

Due to its odor, which smells like a rotting corpse or carcass, the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is characterized as a “carrion” flower and perhaps best known by its more common name: Corpse Flower.

And this unique-smelling flower is expected to be in bloom by May 25, at San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas.

“If there is any plant that creates a stir when in flowers, it certainly is the Titan Arum,” said SDBG President and CEO Julian Duval. “One cannot predict when it will bloom. Individual plants only bloom about every 5 to 10 years and from start to finish this amazing plant usually goes through the whole bloom cycle, producing its huge inflorescence in less than 30 days.

“It (Titus Arum bloom) changes almost hourly, so you need to see it in all its stages. Yes, it stinks. But it is also other-worldly beautiful.”

This plant grows in the rainforests of Sumatra, a climate that will be replicated at the Garden once the Dickinson Family Education Conservatory opens later this year, where the Garden hopes to have the Titan Arum as part of its permanent display.

Once this plant is in full bloom, the Corpse Flower will be approximately 4 feet tall and emit its unique stench for only one or two days. The flower will continue to grow approximately 3 inches per day until attaining its peak bloom height and then finally fully opening up.

This plant is currently on loan from California State University Fullerton and will be on public display in SDBG’s Bamboo Garden during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission prices are $14 for adults, $10 for students/seniors/military, $8 for children, and no admission charge for children under 2 years of age. 

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