Powai Arboretum is home to a rare sight, the blooming of a foul-smelling bush flower

Powai Arboretum is home to a rare sight, the blooming of a foul-smelling bush flower

A fly was buzzing around the 4-foot-tall plant known as the corpse flower at Walter Andersen Nursery on Wednesday — a sign that the plant was doing its job attracting pollinators.

Customers gaze at the plant, officially known as Amorphophallus Titanum, which is expected to be in full bloom at the Poway Arboretum on Thursday.

And with the bloom comes a stench, something like rotting meat or flesh.

The maroon flower is a rare sight, lasting only one to three days, said David Ross, senior manager at Walter Andersen Nursery. Once the large petals open, the flower will look like a vibrant velvety cup around a large stem.

The relatively rare plant is native to Sumatra, Ross said.

“They like humid tropical climates. This is enjoying the weather right now,” he said.

He said corpse flowers are usually only found in botanical gardens such as the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas.

By late Wednesday afternoon, Carmel Mountain Ranch resident Kathy Leach had already been to the nursery twice that day, mainly to see Corpse Flower. Leach said she watched the plant live streamed on Facebook and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see the flower unfold.

“Why sit at home when you can see this in person? The staff here are just as excited to see it,” she said.

Leach planned to return later in the evening. The nursery, located at 12755 Danielson Court off Community Road, remained open an additional three hours, until 8 p.m., so customers could get an up-close look at the corpse flower.

Poway resident Sarah Kirchhofer said she might come back Thursday to see the full bloom. The nursery is expected to open at 7 a.m

“I find it wonderful that they can grow it outside the rainforest in Powai,” Kirchhofer said.

A sign placed in front of the plant indicates that it needs seven to ten years of vegetative growth before it blooms for the first time. The sign said it may bloom again in two to three years or more.

“(The plant) releases strong odors to attract pollinators and insects that feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat,” the sign says. “Smells like rotting flesh.”

The corpse flower grew from a seed planted by a farmer in late 2016 or January 2017 in North San Diego County, Ross said. Walter Andersen Nursery bought the plant in December 2018 for $300, Ross said.

The lamp was only 8 inches wide in June 2021, but two years later it was 15 inches wide, Ross said. Last year, the plant produced a single leaf about 12 to 15 feet long. In the fall of 2022, the plant went dormant and was moved upstairs where it was warmer until June of this year.

It was then transplanted into a larger 24-inch pot and taken down to the main floor for display.

“I don’t know what will happen now that we have entered a new cycle,” he said.

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