Huntington Library Corpse Flower Unexpectedly Blooms, Emitting Signature Foul Stench

Published : Saturday, August 18, 2018 | 4:43 AM

One of the Corpse Flowers at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens has finally bloomed, a week after Li’l Stinker – the name given to another of the Amorphophallus titanum plants grown in the San Marino garden – failed to bloom and was dissected by the Huntington’s botanists for the public to see what’s inside.

The Huntington tweeted early Friday one of three plants now on display at the Huntington Gardens’ Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory “has decided to bloom” and that fans can visit during viewing hours to see the process – and experience the stink that the flower exudes, a smell that has been compared to a combination of rotting meat, garbage, rotten eggs and decomposing vegetables.

“Whoa! This was unexpected! One of the #TitanTriplets has decided to bloom…TODAY! Are you ready, flower fans? Members’ viewing hours from 5:30 to 8 tonight, with regular public hours tomorrow from 10 a.m.,” the tweet said.

The is only the sixth time a corpse flower has bloomed at the Huntington.

The Huntington Library's "Titan Triplets," named Stink, Stank and Stunk. Stink has bloomed, and botanists expect that Stank will be next. The plants are on view to the public this weekend. Images courtesy Huntongton Library via Twitter

Botanists occasionally refer to the plant as the titan arum.

This is only the sixth time a Corpse Flower has bloomed at the Huntington. Currently, fifty-five of these are being cultivated at the Rose Hills Conservatory.

Staff at the Gardens said the three-foot-five-inch flower began opening up Thursday night and was fully opened by Friday. Aside from emitting the disgusting smell, naturally intended to attract pollinating insects, it’s also now showing its colorful interior, which botanists said last week is actually really several flowers grouped around an inner flower spike, known as a spadix, surrounded by a petal-like collar, known as a spathe.

The #TitanTriplets, as staff labeled the three titan arums on display at the Conservatory – including the one that bloomed starting Thursday night – were actually spares to the first that failed to bloom after the Huntington declared a “bloom watch” last month.

The #TitanTriplets have been named Stink, Stank and Stunk, according to the Huntington’s Twitter updates.

“Oooh! Last night’s #CorpseFlower bloom is still wide open this morning. The 2 remaining #TitanTriplets look ready to follow suit. (Our money is on “Stank” to go next.) Visiting hours 10-5 today,” a Huntington tweet early Friday said.

The new bloom appears to be smaller than earlier blooms at the Huntington recorded in 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2014.

The species is native to the rain forests of Sumatra in Indonesia and is billed as the world’s largest flower. It has now been grown in several other nurseries around the globe, including the ones at the Huntington and at many other botanical gardens in North America.

Library spokeswoman Lisa Blackburn told City News Service that the two other Corpse Flowers cultivated at the Huntington may bloom in the next few days.

A typical Corpse Flower bloom usually lasts for about 24 hours, and then withers and dies. Under the ground, a corm, a rounded underground storage organ present in plants of species similar to the titan arum, continues to survive and later grows a stem out of the ground, becoming a new Corpse Flower plant.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, located at 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

For updates on the Corpse Flowers, visit www.huntington.org or follow www.twitter.com/TheHuntington.