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Smelly Plant Blooms in Berkeley

By Dan McMenamin, BCN
Saturday June 19, 2010 - 04:40:00 PM

The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley is usually a sight to behold, but it is noses that might be held there at the end of this month because of the smell from a "corpse plant" that is about to blossom.  

The Titan Arum, also known as the corpse plant due to the rotten flesh-like stench that emanates from it when it blossoms, is expected to reach its peak stink when it flowers sometime around July 1, according to garden officials.  

The plant will bloom into a bright green and deep maroon flower that combines with the stink to attract insects that pollinate it, according to garden officials.  

It is the sixth Titan Arum flower featured at the garden's Tropical House since 2005.  

The plant, part of a collection that came as seeds from Sumatra 15 years ago, is the largest flowering structure in the plant world, can grow as much as four inches a day before it blooms.  

Its underground stem needs to weigh about 30 pounds or more before blooming, a process that takes at least seven years, according to garden officials.  

Paul Licht, director of the UC Botanical Garden, said that the plants even "make nice house plants, except perhaps during the one night they bloom."  

The Botanical Garden is using its website,, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages, to update the public on the plant's progress and to solicit suggestions for its name.  

The winner of the name contest will receive a young Titan Arum plant, also known as Amorphophallus titanum, and a family membership or a one-year extension of a current membership to the garden.  

The previous blooms in the garden included Trudy in 2005, Titania in 2007, Odora and Odorado in 2008, and Tiny in 2009.  

The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but is closed the first Tuesday of each month. When the upcoming bloom occurs, the garden will be opening after hours to members. Memberships will also be sold at the garden's front gate, located at 200 Centennial Drive in Berkeley.