Corpse flower blooms for first time at UC Riverside

By Allyson Vargara | The Press-Enterprise |

The Press-Enterprise - “Little Miss Stinky,” the corpse flower on display at the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens, has bloomed.

At least 1,500 people — a couple wearing homemade “Little Miss Stinky” shirts — lined up outside the botanic gardens’ greenhouse Sunday, July 24 to see the Amorphophallus titanum, the rare corpse plant, in bloom.

The corpse plant started to unfurl its burgundy bracts — protective leaves around the flowering stalk — late Saturday night, July 23.

The university had a live-stream to watch the action.

The endangered tropical flower blooms only once every seven to nine years, sometimes as long as a decade. It only stays in full bloom for 24 to 40 hours, so Sunday was peak bloom.

Officials from the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences were excited a rare, stinky plant drew large crowds to the gardens, which are typically empty during this time of year.

It was the first time the plant has bloomed in full since the university got its seeds in 2007 from the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens — which has its own corpse plant.

Corpse plants can grow up to 8 feet tall, and are native to Sumatra, Indonesia, where only 1,000 are believed to be in the wild. The endangered plants are pollinated by carrion flies and dung beetles — hence their pungent smell — “similar to rotting meat when in full bloom,” according to a news release from UCR.

“Little Miss Stinky” is stored in a temperature-controlled greenhouse, along with two smaller corpse flowers, which are still growing.

UCR English literature students Tara Dyvas, Chelsea Keane and Amy Juarez came to the gardens Saturday and Sunday. The students said they were aware of the Huntington Library’s corpse plant — which staff affectionately called “Stankosaurus Rex” — and always wanted to see one for themselves.

“It’s hard to get all the way over there on the literal day it blooms, so on the literal day it blooms, which is only 12 hours,” said Dyvas. “So when this one bloomed it was like, ‘we gotta go.’”

“It smelled like Brussels sprouts … I was surprised at how big it was,” Chelsea Keane said. “That was the coolest part; like this plant simulates animal flesh in color, smell and heat, all these different multi-sensory ways.”

Janine Almanzor, a curator at the gardens, came to the campus early Sunday to see — and smell — the rare plant. She stayed in the greenhouse all day to answer the crowd’s many curious questions. Almanzor said the rare plant drew visitors from other cities and counties, including a couple originally from Indonesia who wanted to see their native plant for the first time.

“It’s remarkable. People didn’t know the UCR botanic gardens was here,” said Almanzor. “But here’s an oasis in the middle of city that people can come to. We’re hoping this will increase our membership, and turn this greenhouse into a full conservatory that’s open to the public.”

To view the corpse plant:
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 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 conservatory.

Visitors should park in metered parking in UCR’s BG Lot, Lot 10 and Lot 13 Blue.

UCR campus, at 1 Botanic Gardens Drive.

Information: gardens.ucr.edu

Read the Original Press Enterprise Article


 

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