• San Diegp Botanic Garden

Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)


Two Amorphophallus titanum plants, named Jack Smellington and Stinking Beauty, bloomed at the San Diego Botanic Garden on Halloween 2021 and during the full moon and lunar eclipse of November 2021, respectively.  These 14-year-old sibling plants last bloomed in October 2018. 

The corpse flower’s common name comes from the smell of the flowers, a rancid carrion scent that attracts the carcass-eating insects that pollinate it. The bloom of a corpse flower is a rare and special event, as most plants require seven to ten years to produce their first blooms and then bloom only every four to five years thereafter. The fully opened bloom lasts around 48 hours. The public can watch, above, a 24-hour live stream of the plant, which grows as much as six inches per day before blooming. The public may also purchase tickets through the links above to visit the plant in person at the Garden’s Dickinson Family Education Conservatory.

Watch our time lapse video of Jack Smellington! We have captured the first 24 hours of the bloom, from 10 am on Halloween to 10 am on November 1.

The flower spike of the corpse plant is the longest unbranched flower spike of any plant in the world. During the bloom, the massive floral spike (up to 12 feet tall, in the wild), which looks like one enormous flower, opens its deep red, petal-like spathe, to reveal hundreds of tiny flowers at the base of the spadix, the tall, yellow pillar of the structure. Each bloom spike has both female flowers, which are deep red, and male flowers, which are white. The spathe and spadix wilt within a few days of the bloom. For a close-up of the plant's tiny flowers and other photos from the recent bloom, visit our media page.

The Amorphophallus titanum – or titan arum, as it is also known – is an endangered plant that grows on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra, with fewer than 1,000 plants remain in the wild. In order to expand the shallow genetic pool of this rarely blooming plant, SDBG manually is manually pollenating each plant with pollen collected and donated by the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Watch a video of the October 2021 pollination process, led by the Garden's Curator for Collections, Jeremy Bugarchich, below. SDBG is working with many other botanic gardens to conserve this plant through the Tools and Resources for Endangered and Exceptional Plant Species (TREES) project.