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Rare, smelly 'corpse flower' blooms at San Diego Botanic Garden

The rare flower blooms every four or five years and the full bloom only lasts two days.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A rare and foul-smelling attraction is drawing attention in North County. The "corpse flower" at the San Diego Botanic Garden is in full bloom.

The corpse flower’s common name comes from the smell of the flowers, which some have deemed as the "smell of death." The rancid carrion scent is what attracts the carcass-eating insects that pollinate it. 

The flower spike of the corpse plant is the longest unbranched flower spike of any plant in the world. The rare flower blooms every four or five years and full bloom only last two days.   

"The corpse flower is the rock star diva of the plant world,” said SDBG 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. We can't wait to see what this corpse flower is going to do."

Watch this time-lapse video from the last 24 hours!

The Amorphophallus Titanum

  • The Titan Arum, as it is also known, is an endangered plant that grows on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra.
  • Fewer than 1,000 plants remain in the wild. 
  • In order to expand the small genetic pool of this rarely blooming plant, the flower is manually pollinated with pollen. 
  • In order to estimate the timing of the bloom’s growth as accurately as possible, San Diego Botanic Garden uses infrared cameras for nighttime filming and thermometers to track the rising temperature of the plant.

San Diego Botanic Garden works with other botanic gardens to conserve the plant through the Tools and Resources for Endangered and Exceptional Plant Species (TREES) project.

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