Yuk! Huntington Library’s Corpse Flower Blooms, Emitting Signature Foul Stench

Published : Thursday, July 25, 2019 | 5:57 AM

[Updated] A famous and very stinky flower at The Huntington Library started to bloom Wednesday afternoon and is now available for both visitors and members to view, and smell. [A live stream of the flower is embedded below.]

The Library’s tenth Corpse Flower, a massive plant with a kind of Rocky Horror Show look to it, showed the beginning stages of blossoming yesterday and was expected to reach full bloom last night.

The Huntington says a Corpse Flower in bloom is “as rare as it is spectacular.”

Witnessing a blooming Amorphophallus titanium can be difficult because within a day or two of blooming, the flower collapses under its own weight and withers away.

Only about 60 such flowers have been recorded in the United States, and The Huntington was the first in California to have the flower in 1999.

Analyses of the chemicals released by other Corpse Flowers show the stench include chemicals exuded from rotting fish, Limburger cheese, old sweaty socks, rotting onions and cabbage, and human feces, according to the American Chemical Society.

The plant got its English name from the literal translation of its Indonesian name, “bunga bangkai” (“bunga,” for flower, and “bangkai,” for corpse or cadaver). It is also known as the titan arum to many botanists, shortened from the scientific name.

The species is native to the rain forests of Sumatra in Indonesia and is billed as the world’s largest flower.

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 Flower, visit www.huntington.org or follow www.twitter.com/TheHuntington.