California Science Center

Darth Vapor, a Corpse Flower, Will Soon Release a ‘Force'-ful Smell

The public has spoken: The California Science Center's star specimen just got a fearsomely fabulous name.

California Science Center

What to Know

  • California Science Center
  • The rare specimen, a loan from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, is expected to bloom (and stink) later in August
  • Free to see; find it on the second floor near the "Life! Beginnings" exhibit

Picking a name for a strange plant, the sort of surreal specimen that seems as if it might have been devised by a group of especially inventive sci-fi writers?

That can be a tricky task, but roaming the cosmos for just the right moniker seems like the right path to take.

And that is exactly what has happened at the California Science Center, where a growing-ever-taller Corpse Flower is located.

A loaner from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, the rare plant is on view, for free, on the Exposition Park museum's second floor.

Like the fourteen Corpse Flowers that have previously bloomed at The Huntington, this on-loan living thing needed a notable name.

So the California Science Center turned to the public in early August 2021, to see what the colorful consensus might be when it came to giving the humungous flower a happening handle.

Several possibilities played on the word "spathe," an ode to one of the Corpse Flower's central components (think of the frilly outer ring). The Plant From Outer "Spathe," Little "Spathe" Explorer, and "Spathe" Cadet were all in the running, adding a fun florid flavor to the proceedings.

But the winner, once all of the online votes were tallied?

It's Darth Vapor, a name that both acknowledges the flower's rather formidable presence and the reality that it will get mighty vaporous when it soon blooms.

That bloom?

It's still expected later in August, but the Corpse Flower is still worth a stop by before then, if you'd like to behold, in person, a plant that grows quite quickly.

How quickly? It can add another inch or two in a day, and has been doing just that over the last several days, or at least most of them.

Surely Darth Vader himself would be pleased that such a powerful and strong Earth-based botanical wonder would nearly share his name, though the "Vapor" part may strike the "Star Wars" icon as rather curious.

Track Darth Vapor's progress on the California Science Center's social pages, and stay tuned for when the odor-releasing visitor begins to all-too-briefly bloom.

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