Stinky ‘Corpse Flower’ Expected to Bloom in California

The Indonesian titan arum "corpse flower" has a putrid scent to lure pollinating dung beetles and can sometimes be smelled half a mile away.  (LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

A so-called corpse flower known for the rotten stench it releases appeared close to blooming Monday at the Huntington Library in Southern California.

The plant nicknamed “Li’l Stinker” plumped up in the last few days and was likely to bloom Monday or Tuesday, said Brandon Tam, an orchid specialist at the Huntington.

“The problem with these flowers is that it’s always hard to tell because they always have a mind of their own, depending on the weather, depending on if it’s ready to bloom,” Tam said.

The plant got its nickname because at 44 inches tall it is smaller than a typical corpse flower, according to the Huntington.

It is the sixth corpse flower to date at the institution in suburban San Marino. The previous bloom on Aug. 23, 2014, reached a height of 66 inches.

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The formal name of the corpse flower is Amorphophallus titanum and it is native to the rainforests of Sumatra.

It typically takes 15 years for a corpse flower to reach a mature blooming size, and there are now 45 in Huntington’s collection, Tam said.

The 16-year-old plant is the offspring of a 2002 blooming. “We’re getting to that age where they’re all about to bloom fairly soon,” Tam said.

The foul odor attracts insects which aids pollination. The plants don’t emit the foul odor until the bloom, which usually lasts only 24 hours.

The Huntington said there were around 50 visitors circling the plant Monday morning.

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The research and educational institution houses rare books, art collections and botanical gardens.

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