News & Information

Corpse flower blooms in Sequoia Hall

03-25-2015

Corpse Flower Sac State student Kindra Davis grabs a photo, and her nose, in Sequoia Hall on Monday, March 23, the day the corpse flower bloomed. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep)

Earlier photos of the corpse lily

In the media:

"Now stinking at Sac State: the blooming corpse flower," The Sacramento Bee

"Sac State's corpse flower in bloom," CBS13

"Sac State corpse flower," Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento"

"Unusual corpse flower to bloom any day now at Sac State," KCRA 3


All eyes – and noses – were on Sacramento State’s corpse flower during spring break, when it bloomed for the first time in 20 years.

The massive plant is aptly named for the pungent, even repugnant, fragrance it emits when it blooms. The flower – also referred to as the Titan arum or corpse lily – can go a decade or more between blossoms, so the occasion garnered much attention and fanfare.

The plant was on display until Wednesday afternoon in Biological Sciences’ new “Living Gallery” in Sequoia Hall Room 105. The exhibit closed after the plant was returned to the University's greenhouse.

The blooming of the corpse flower generated significant social media buzz and attracted local newspaper and television coverage, including a feature on Channel 31’s Good Day Sacramento. Those unable to see the plant in person could watch on a live webcam (see link above), which was fixated on the flower around the clock.

A team of Sac State biologists led by Michael Fong and Merrill Roseberry kept tabs on the plant’s progress toward blooming. Once a corpse flower blooms, the giant blossom lasts less than 48 hours, so those who wanted to witness the rare occasion had only until Wednesday to get to the gallery before the flower began to fade.

The blooming was the first in a series of events set to take place in the Living Gallery, which allows students to witness biological processes in real time on campus. Shows will be changed every three months, with a Dermestid beetle display up next in the fall and an ant farm installation forthcoming across from the department office.

The corpse flower’s blooming in the gallery was the first of its kind at Sacramento State and is an important milestone for the University’s Biological Sciences Department. Such events are extremely rare around the world, and this sets the department ahead of the curve when it comes to world-class experiences for its students, who were able to witness something few others get to.

The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanium) – is native to western Sumatra, where it grows in rain forests along limestone hills. It has the largest flowering structure – or inflorescence – of any plant in the world and can grow up to 10 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and weigh up to 25 pounds.

Vegetation growth takes from seven to 10 years, making blooms extremely rare; when it does bloom, the flower emits a stench similar to rotting meat, resulting in the “corpse” moniker, to attract carrion beetles and flesh flies that pollenate the plant. – John Blomster and Craig Koscho