Morbid curiosity-seekers are flocking to Encinitas, hoping to catch a whiff of a blooming Amorphophallus titanum.
The so-called "corpse flower," named for the pungent stench emitted when it blooms, is starting to make its appearance at the San Diego Botanic Garden in North County and the spectacle will only last a few days.
The floral spike from the corpse flower can reach up to 12 feet in the wild, opening to "reveal two rings of flowers along the spadix. The spathe and spadix wilt within a few days of the bloom," according to a news release from the SDBG. We have no idea what a spadix is, either ("an inflorescence consisting of a spike with a fleshy or thickened axis, usually enclosed in a spathe," says disctionary.com). Or a spathe ("a large sheathing bract enclosing the flower cluster of certain plants, especially the spadix of arums and palms," per Oxford Languages). So, yeah, this isn't helping.
Photos: Catch a Rare Glimpse of the Blooming Corpse Flower in Encinitas
After all that work — "most plants require seven to 10 years to produce their first blooms and then bloom only every four to five years thereafter," according to the botanic garden — the bloom lasts just 48 hours after it first puts in an appearance.
"The corpse flower is the rock star diva of the plant world,” SDBG president and CEO Ari Novy is quoted as saying in a news release issued this week. “We never know exactly when it's going to perform, but when it does, it's the most amazing show in all of horticulture. We can't wait to see what this corpse flower is going to do."
The endangered plant is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra; there are less than 1,000 plants left in the wild, according to the SDBC.
Incredibly, the spike is soaring six inches per day, officials said. Want to monitor it from home? There's a livestream here. Looks like there's plenty of time to head to North County — to our eye, the spike looks to be only a couple of feet tall at this point.
So, you may ask: Why so repellant, corpse flower?
That's an easy one, according the garden's botanists: The "flower's rancid carrion scent … attracts the carcass-eating insects that pollinate it." So gross.
Fun fact: The folks at the SDBG have given their plant an October-perfect name: Jack Smellington. An adult ticket for to visit the whole garden, not just the corpse flower, is $18.