This will stink: Rare corpse flower ready to bloom at UC Riverside

The first bloom of UCR's plant, kept in a greenhouse in the Botanic Gardens, is expected any day now
By Allyson Vergara | The Press-Enterprise |

The Press Enterprise - This rare, beautiful flower is gigantic, other-worldly — and stinky.

The amorphophallus titanum, known as a corpse flower plant, is on display in the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens and getting ready to bloom, a UCR news release announced.

Affectionately called “Little Miss Stinky” by the gardens staff, the tropical flower blooms only once every seven to nine years and sometimes waits as long as a decade. It only stays in full bloom for a short time — 24 to 40 hours, officials said.

It can grow up to 8 feet tall, has a bright burgundy color, and has a pungent smell — “similar to rotting meat when in full bloom,” the release states.

As of Friday, July 22, the flower hasn’t yet bloomed, but officials say that could happen any day now.

A live video feed of the plant can be seen on UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences’ YouTube channel.

“We hope (and) expect opening one night this weekend, since indicators — slowed growth and higher temperatures — point that way,” said Jodie Holt, director of the Botanic Gardens. “The exact day it will happen is difficult to pinpoint.”

It will be the first time the corpse plant has bloomed at UCR since the university got its seeds from the Huntington Library in 2007. That San Marino-based library, art museum and botanical gardens has its own corpse plant, affectionately called the Big Stinker.

The plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, where only 1,000 are believed to be in the wild, officials said. The endangered plants are pollinated by carrion flies and dung beetles — hence their strong stench.

“You’ll walk by and think, ‘What died here?’” Holt said in the release.

The corpse flower stands 3 feet tall, and is expected to grow another 5 or 6 inches.

The plant, along with two smaller corpse flowers, will remain in the Botanic Gardens’ temperature-controlled greenhouse, which is not normally open to visitors.

The UCR Botanic Gardens is open Sundays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the gardens staff will extend corpse-flower viewing hours until 4 p.m. The garden is typically closed Saturdays, but may remain open if the plant is in bloom. The plant will be under close supervision and staff members will be inside the greenhouse to answer questions.

Admission is a suggested donation of $5, which will support the gardens and a conservatory housing rare plants. Visitors should park in metered parking in UCR’s BG Lot, Lot 10 and Lot 13 Blue.

The gardens are on the UCR campus, at 1 Botanic Gardens Drive.

Information: www.gardens.ucr.edu, www.instagram.com/ucrbotanicgardens

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