Rare, Smelly Corpse Flower Set to Bloom at Orange Coast College

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The rare corpse flower is seen in a file photo. (Credit: KTLA)

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If you’re in Costa Mesa Saturday or Sunday you may want to stop by Orange Coast College to catch a whiff of the rare corpse flower, which is famous for its noxious odor.

The smell, which has been compared to rotting flesh, only lasts 24 to 48 hours while the plant is blooming, according to O.C.C. horticulture instructor Joe Stead.

The corpse plant, which was expected to bloom in the next day or two, was on display to the public Friday.

Stead has been nurturing two of the plants since 2003, but has never seen what experts call an Amorphophallus titanum plant bloom.

“We’re just waiting like everybody else,” Stead said.

The horrible smell is emitted so the plant can attract pollinators in its natural habitat, Stead said.

“I have a big respirator if I need to get up close,” Stead said, adding that he plans to collect some pollen from the plant when it blooms.

The last time one of the flowers bloomed in Southern California was at Fullerton Arboretum in 2007, according to a news release from O.C.C.

The corpse flower would be available to view and smell from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until it finally blooms, Stead said.

A live feed of the plant’s progress can be seen on the Orange Coast College website.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this report.

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