Anticipation is deadly inside a UC Santa Barbara greenhouse where a rare Titan arum, or "corpse flower," remains on the brink of blooming, the university reports via Facebook.
Dubbed "Chanel," the notoriously odiferous flower-child arrived on campus about five years ago after its mother was pollinated by a specimen at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Notes the news release:
Sometime in the next week or so the UC Santa Barbara greenhouse will start smelling like a rotting corpse. But the campus police needn't worry; it's only the huge perennial herb Amorphophallus titanum, a member of the Araceae family and thus related to jack-in-the-pulpit and skunk cabbage.
Commonly known as the corpse flower and dubbed the Titan Arum by Sir David Attenborough during the filming of the Private Life of Plants series, this botanic giant can grow up to 10 feet tall and has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world.
AP reports that a different giant corpse flower smelling "oddly like rotting flesh" started to bloom last Sunday at the U.S. Botanic Garden next to the Capitol. The Washington Post has a photo tribute, and reports its smell being described as "a very dead elephant."
REASON FOR THE RANK
The purpose of its sulfur-y raunch is to attract pollinators. Reaching a near human body temperature, the tall center of the flower will heat up to help spread the stench.
CAN I SEE AND/OR SMELL IT?
Yes. The greenhouse is open to the public, but only at certain times. The flower's Facebook page is posting details on location, parking and visiting hours as they become available.
PHOTO: I THINK YOU GOT TALLER
While you wait, watch a feed of the rapidly growing plant. A new photograph is taken every five minutes and posted online by UCSB (refresh page for newest image):
VIDEO: NOT AUDREY II (BUT NOT A BAD GUESS)
FUN FACTS ON A FOUL FLOWER (via UCSB)
- Female flowers are most receptive in the first 12 hours of bloom
- Male flowers only open on the second day to help prevent self-pollination
- After two days the inflorescence begins to collapse
- Titans can take seven to 10 years to bloom
- Native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia
- Uncommon both in the wild and in cultivation
- Listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature
- There have only been about 175 blooms in cultivated species worldwide
- First cultivated bloom occurred in 1889 in England — the same plant did not flower again until 1926
- The first documented flowering in the U.S. was at the New York Botanical Gardens in 1937