If you’re hanging out in the same neighborhood as the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, then you might catch a whiff of something unpleasant. Many describe the scent as a combination of rotting flesh and sewage, but that’s far from the actual cause of the stench.
So then what’s producing the putrid smell? A blooming corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) appears to be behind things.
Image Credit: Huntington Library/Twitter
Citing Brandon Tam, an orchid expert at the facility, a corpse flower on the premises has been expanding. The sudden growth, paired with the ripe aroma that seems to be permeating from the plant’s crevices, are two telltale signs that the flower is fixing to bloom.
The only question now is, when?
"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.
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Corpse flowers generally secrete their foul odor approximately 24 hours before blooming because it attracts pollinating insects. With that in mind, estimates are suggesting that the bloom could happen on Monday or Tuesday.
The plants are native to the rainforests of Sumatra and typically remain dormant for around 15 years before blooming. The one at Huntington Library, nicknamed ‘Lil-stinker’ because of its stunted stature, stayed dormant for 16 years before displaying the blooming indicators that it is today.
These blooming events are particularly rare and only last for one or two days. That said, the corpse flower at Huntington Library offers a unique opportunity for the public to observe, and is justifiably attracting quite a bit of attention from spectators.