Commence Nose Plugging: Corpse Flower to Bloom

The stinky and rare favorite will spread its massive petals at the San Diego Botanic Garden, in Encinitas.

What to Know

  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • Encinitas
  • Bloom predicted (but not guaranteed) for May 24 or 25

A flower's bloom doesn't last forever, any poet worth her quill can tell you, which makes awaiting a beautiful bud's all-too-short window an important task, if momentary and magnificent events elevate you.

The floral scene around Southern California? Wisteria has a way of tendriling through our hearts come March, roses make a splashy showing in April, and the jacaranda blossoms throw their purple parade come May.

We know those year-in, year-out windows, but what of the oh-so-rare, might-happen-at-any-time corpse flower? A flower that is so famously fragrant that it can turn a nose into knots?

Well, knot, er, not literally, of course.

But the smell of this over-sized flower has been described by the good people of the San Diego Botanic Garden as "...a scent Morticia Addams might use as an intoxicating perfume." It's toe-curling, and stomach-curdling, and pretty disgusting, and, you bet: Many people wish to sniff it, at least once.

That chance is just ahead at the Encinitas-located garden, which is now in possession of a just-about-to-open corpse flower. The flower may open around May 24 or 25, so Thursday or Friday, but watching the San Diego Botanic Garden's social media is key to find the exact time.

Once open? The Amorphophallas titanum bloom doesn't last for long, but a couple of days, really, if that. And "(i)ndividual plants only bloom about every 5 to 10 years," says Julian Duval, the president and CEO of the garden.

So you have to go, if your nose and curiosity compels you to do so, knowing that another blooming corpse flower may not turn up at a Southern California garden for several more months, or even years.

The spooky scent isn't the only nose-worthy, er, note-worthy attribute of this seemingly fictional flower. It's also quite huge, and dramatic, looking as though it has sprung from the screenplay of an especially imaginative writer, and not soil.

The blossom's height? A towering four feet prior to opening, give or take an inch here or there.

To see this seemingly supernatural specimen? Your admission to SDBG gets you in, but time your visit well, dear fans of eerie olfactory experiences.

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