‘Corpse Flower' Blooms at Huntington Botanical Gardens

California, Pasadena, Huntington Library

Photo: Universal Images Group Editorial

SAN MARINO (CNS) - The famous corpse flower was in full bloom today at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, although its timing was not the best, coming on a day when the gardens were closed to the public.

“Behold Stankosaurus Rex, a majestic and smelly beast. Our 12th Amorphophallus titanum (#CorpseFlower) peaked in its bloom early this morning ... Before it closes up, our botanical staff will be hand-pollinating the plant. Stay tuned!'' the Huntington tweeted Tuesday morning.

The flower started blooming on Monday night, allowing some visitors the chance to view it until 9 p.m., but tickets quickly sold out.

The museum and gardens will reopen at 10 a.m. Wednesday, when guests can get a view -- and a whiff -- of what has been called the world's largest flower -- although it is technically an “inflorescence,'' or a cluster of flowers.

The Amorphophallus titanum, also known as a Titan Arum and corpse flower, can reach more than 8 feet in height when it blooms, opening to a diameter of 4 feet. This year's specimen reached 90 inches, breaking the previous local record of 81 inches in 2009.

When in one of its ultra-rare blooms, it gives off an odor akin to rotting flesh, attracting insects that pollinate the flowers deep inside. The blooming plant produces two key gases -- dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide -- that also are present in decomposing animals and vegetables, according to Susan Turner-Lowe, The Huntington's vice president for communications & marketing.

What prompts a particular plant to start the blooming process largely remains a mystery, Turner-Lowe said, but the corpse flower tends to bloom during hot weather.

When a corpse flower was first displayed at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the late 19th century, at least one Victorian woman was said to have swooned when she got a whiff of the bloom.

The flower was first displayed in the United States in 1937 at the New York Botanical Garden.

The Huntington's pollination process can be viewed atwww.instagram.com/tv/CQ_uV7UnOUs/?utm_medium=copy_link.

Advance reservations are required to view the flower in person, and can be made at https://tickets.huntington.org/events/c608554c-4e22-5925-fe9b-d2393ef9b27d?tg=68b5a03f-4d53-f15d-4fe2-9c8936ce7d3e.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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