Stinkin' good news: Corpse flower blooming at San Diego Botanic Garden

It's a stench you won't stick your nose up at

A close look at the Corpse Flower that bloomed in the San Diego Botanic Garden, June 28 2024.
San Diego Botanic Garden

The corpse flower is blooming and you know what that means — there's a rare and stinky scent waiting for all who visit the San Diego Botanic Garden only during the next couple days.

The Amorphophallus titanum, better known as the corpse flower, began its odorous bloom on Friday. The putrid event only lasts for 48 hours, so the SDBG has extended their hours to get as many noses in the building as possible.

On Saturday, the garden is extending its hours from 7 a.m. until 12 a.m. at the Dickinson Family Education Conservatory at the Garden. Sunday will also see extended hours.

Think you can smell something just as rancid elsewhere? Think again! The bloom of a corpse flower is a special and uncommon event since most corpse flowers need seven to ten years to bloom for the first time, and only bloom again thereafter every four to five years.

This particular flower on display last bloomed three years ago at the garden in November 2021.

“The blooming of a corpse flower has become an international sensation, intriguing people from around the world with its fleeting flower,” said SDBG President and CEO, Ari Novy, PhD. “We are extremely fortunate to be presenting a bloom from our permanent collection, making this year’s bloom even more special. The heat and smell are used to attract pollinator insects, while also attracting curious humans excited to experience this beautiful and smelly rock star of the plant world.”

Corpse Flower in full bloom weekend of June 18. 2024 at San Diego Botanic Garden.
The corpse flower is kept in the San Diego Botanic Garden's Dickinson Family Education Conservatory. (San Diego Botanic Garden)

The garden is open late June 28, 29, and 30 to allow visitors to view the rare bloom. It's encouraged that you reserve a spot here.

Special corpse flower viewing hours at San Diego Botanic Garden

  • June 28, 7 a.m. - 12 a.m.
  • June 29, 7 a.m. - 12 a.m.
  • June 30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

24-hour corpse plant livestream

Things change quickly for a blooming corpse flower, so the garden is recording a 24-hour live stream of the plant available here (dubbed Corpse Cam).

Why does the corpse flower stink?

The corpse flower earned its nickname by imitating the odor of rotten meat in order to attract pollinators like carrion beetles and flies, according to SDBG. In order to increase its chances of pollination, its large spadix (the big yellow stem sticking out of the middle) generates heat, raising its scent high into the trees so it can attract those pollinators from farther away.

Those who've dared to smell it have described it as smelling like cheese, garlic, stinky feet, diapers or rotten fish!

The flower bloomed on Halloween at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas for the first time since 2018, and only the second time in its 14 years of existence, reports NBC 7's Joe Little.

Why is the corpse flower's bloom so rare?

Most of these Sumatran-rainforest-native plants need to age seven to 10 years before blooming for the first time. After that, they bloom only every four or five years afterwards.

After fully blooming, it will emanate its famous stench for only three days before starting to close up and decay slowly over the next few weeks.

“The corpse flower is the smelly rock star of the plant world,” said Novy.

“Its putrescence attracts pollinators in its native habitat in Sumatra, Indonesia, while also attracting curious humans from around the world excited to experience this beautiful, stinky, giant inflorescence.”

Garden Director John Clements explains the stench of the corpse flower to knowledge-hungry visitors at the San Diego Botanic Garden. (NBC 7)
Visitors take photo opportunities in front of the rare bloom at the San Diego Botanic Garden. (NBC 7)
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