Huntington Gardens’ stinky giant corpse flower expected to bloom soon


As Hollywood sequels go, “Stinky 5: Return of the Corpse Flower” is a lot more authentic than the usual box-office blockbusters. The super-stinky corpse flower whose giant bloom smells like rotting flesh will unleash a potent stench any day now at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino.

“In case you’re taking notes ... the #CorpseFlower grew another 4.5 inches last night,” @TheHuntington tweeted Sunday. “This could be a biggie!” Some members also received e-mails last week about the coming Big Stinker.

Amorphophallus titanum stands in a pot at the entrance to the Huntington’s conservatory and is predicted to bloom sometime between Wednesday and Saturday, according to the gardens. The bloom watch began last week.


If it opens sooner, the Huntington, usually closed Tuesdays, may open for visitors who want to see and smell the mega fauna native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra.

In the past, hundreds of visitors have flocked to the gardens to witness the spectacle firsthand. The plant drew attention Sunday as signs posted at the entrance alerted visitors that a bloom is at hand. The stalk was 39.5 inches tall Sunday -- and gave off no odor whatsoever.

Titan Arum, as it’s known for short, features a speckled trunk-like stem, unremarkable large green leaves and a spadix as it’s called that can grow as tall as 10 feet. The plant has bloomed at the Huntington just four times since 1999, most recently in 2010.

The Huntington’s website says witnessing a bloom is a rare once-in-a-lifetime treat. It’s the bloom -- sometimes as large as 3 feet in diameter -- surrounded by a crinkly red collar that impresses and sets off the fetid odor. Why the big stink? The plant emits the scent to woo pollinators like carrion beetles and sweat bees.

(Since those critters don’t live here, the Huntington hand pollinates the corpse flower.)

To see it firsthand takes patience and timing. If you want to go, follow the Huntington’s Facebook page and its Twitter feed @TheHuntington in time for the big smelly opening. Also check out Instagram for photos of #CorpseFlower and #StinkyPlant @TheHuntingtonLibrary.