A rare flower with a uniquely unpleasant fragrance—that is, the stench of corpses—will begin to bloom in and around Orange Coast College this week.
The culprit is known as the Amorphophallus titanum plant, which is also called the “corpse flower” by some. The flowers can weight up to 200 pounds at their max. One corpse plant named “Little Dougie” has been at Costa Mesa college since 2006 and stands five feet high, weighing 30 pounds.
Orange Coast College will have the plant on display this week at the university’s administration building, located at 2701 Fairview Road, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Once the flower begins to bloom, the school will allow visitors to remain until 10 p.m. in the evening.
The flower is said to be extremely beautiful when it blooms—visually beautiful, that is—but, originally from Sumatra in Indonesia, the plant’s powerful stench begins when beetles pollinate and burrow within the plant and transfer pollen from male to female flowers. Because the Amorphophallus titanum plant species is currently endangered, the school pollinates it by hand.
The plants literally smell like death, and the intensity is mind-blowing. When indoors in a greenhouse, the stench of the “corpse flower” in bloom can be so strong that windows and fans need to be put on—sometimes the deathly stench is so vicious that the surrounding area is inhabitable by anything that breathes.
Plants take around a decade to provide their first bloom and subsequently bloom every three to five years. The first bloom generally comes in the evening, and the blooming process lasts 24-48 hours.
Visitors are encouraged to donate $3 to help the colleges’s horticulture program.
Orange Coast College is a 164-acre community college founded in 1947 in Costa Mesa, California, about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. It offers more than 135 academic and career programs. It has roughly 25,000 undergraduate students, making it the third largest college in Orange County.
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