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Bloom Watch Continues for ‘Corpse Flower’ at the Huntington

Published on Monday, August 31, 2020 | 11:46 am
 

The massive Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the “corpse flower” or “stinky plant,” at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens grew 6.5 inches over the weekend, but has still yet to show signs of its rare and pungent bloom, which is expected at any time.

The flower had grown 3 inches taller when measured on Saturday, and another 3.5 inches taller on Sunday, according to The Huntington. Another 2.5 inches of growth recorded Monday put the flower’s overall height at 36 inches.

Live Stream of ‘Corpse Flower’

At peak growth, the plants have been known to increase in height by up to 6 inches per day.

The plant “has been called the world’s largest flower, with a bloom that can grow to more than eight feet in height and four feet in diameter,” The Huntington said in a written statement. “It is a rare tropical plant native to the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.”

And it didn’t earn its nicknames with a pleasant aroma.

“When in flower, it exudes a foul stench that smells like rotting meat,” the statement said. “For that reason, Indonesians call it Bunga Bangkai, which means ‘Corpse Flower.’”

The flowers bloom only once every several years, and on an unpredictable basis, according to The Huntington. It lasts only a couple days.

Once blooming begins, it usually takes several hours until the flowers fully open.

To pollinate, staff then uses a paintbrush to dab up pollen from a male plant and applies it to the stigmas of the female flower.

“The window of opportunity for this is roughly one day because on the first day after opening, the male flowers shed their pollen and the female flowers are no longer receptive,” according to The Huntington statement. “We do this to prevent autogamy, or self-pollination, so we can maximize the distribution of genes and maintain more adaptive genetic diversity.”

The expected bloom will be the eighth at The Huntington since 1999. Most recently, people lined up to get a view, and a whiff, of the massive flower in July of 2019.

The Huntington remains closed to the public to the pandemics, but a live stream of the flower can be viewed online at youtu.be/tm1MJD-Qq5E.

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