Those who’ve experienced the scent of the enormous Titan Arum flower compare it to the stench of rotting flesh that’s been sitting out in the sun for a couple of days.
San Diego County residents can decide for themselves this weekend when a Titan Arum, more commonly known as the “corpse flower,” is expected to reach its peak bloom at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas.
The rare occurrence — just a handful of these strange Indonesian plants bloom each year at public gardens worldwide — is expected to draw thousands of visitors, just as it has the last two times the garden hosted a bloom in 2009 and 2006.
“It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful. It’s huge, and it deserves all the attention it generates,” said Julian Duval, San Diego Botanic Garden’s president and CEO. “It looks like something other-worldly, like something you’d see in a science-fiction movie with computer-generated graphics.”
The plant, its full Latin name is Amorphophallus titanium, is native to the rain forests of Sumatra and Borneo, where some blooms have been recorded up to 10 feet in height. Its life cycle is about 40 years and its blooming cycle, though unpredictable, occurs roughly every 5 to 10 years, Duval said.
The blooming process takes about 30 days from start to finish. During that month, the spearhead-shaped blossom will grow from the ground up to a height of four to six feet, averaging a growth rate of 3 or more inches per day.
Finally at peak bloom, the purple, velvety petal sheath opens up like an inverted umbrella to reveal the beige spadix at the center.
For just two days, the flower will emit the rotting corpse scent that,…
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