Rare corpse flower blooms at UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Executive Director Martin Quigley is surrounded...

SANTA CRUZ — After UC Santa Cruz Arboretum staff had given up hope that the facility’s rare corpse flower would bloom after showing signs for several weeks that it would, the unique plant finally blossomed Monday night.

The 5-foot-tall, stinky corpse flower, like something from a Tim Burton movie, drew hundreds to the arboretum Tuesday morning. Visitors packed tightly around the plant as they snapped photos and tried to catch a whiff of its acrid smell. The blooming corpse flower was roped off and accompanied by Arboretum Director Martin Quigley, who had a colorful way of describing the Sumatra native’s signature aroma.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Executive Director Martin Quigley is surrounded on Tuesday by inquisitive visitors to the corpse flower at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Executive Director Martin Quigley is surrounded by a crowd as he inspects the arboretum’s corpse flower that bloomed late Monday. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting gets a bit of lighting assistance from his studio manager Talia Lipskind, left, and UC Santa Cruz Arboretum horticulturist Jose Rodriguez as he makes images of the corpse flower Monday night after it flowered. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Ingrid Anderson and her sons Vien, Sinh and An Nhien to view the blooming corpse flower on Tuesday at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

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With steam keeping the humidity up Tuesday morning, a shaft of morning sunlight illuminates part of the corpse flower at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Executive Director Martin Quigley poses with the corpse flower Monday night.(Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The corpse flower is the main attraction on Tuesday at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum after flowering against expectations. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The corpse flower is the main attraction on Tuesday at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum after flowering against expectations. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The corpse flower is the main attraction on Tuesday at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum after flowering against expectations. Arboretum officials had all but given up hope of the event when on Saturday they posted on their social media that “After careful consideration, we reached the conclusion that our Corpse Flower is truly a corpse. We do not believe it is going to bloom after all.” The plant, which has attracted the attention of thousands, began flowering late Monday night. The titan arum — otherwise known as the “corpse flower” — is native to Indonesia, Sumatra and Borneo and is one of the largest flowers in the world. When it opens, the corpse flower emits an odor like that of rotting flesh, attracting flies and beetles that pollinate the flowers. Corpse flowers can grow for as long as a decade before flowering and then finish the process in a matter of hours. (Shmuel …read more

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