Massive ‘corpse flower’ causes stink, draws crowd in Calif.


Massive 'corpse flower' causes stink, attracts crowd in Calif.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KOVR) - Something stinks in a California town, and it has people lining up to see it.

“I think I was gonna puke and die,” said one smiling child.

It may look like something from the movie “Little Shop of Horrors,” but this 6-foot-7-inch Titan Arum, commonly known as the corpse flower, is real and lives up to its name.

"It’s actually pollinated by beetles and flies, so it’s trying to attract those insects, " said CJ Attington, a science teacher at Roseville High School. “So it gives off different sulfur compounds that mimic the odor of garbage and rotting flesh.”

The plant, which grows naturally in hot and humid Sumatra, needs a little coaxing in this climate. That’s why it’s housed in a greenhouse at the high school.

“We’re the only high school in the world that’s ever managed to bloom a corpse flower, so we’re quite proud of that,” Attington said.

The science teacher has lovingly cared for it, which they named “Thing 2.”

“The fact that it takes this type of maintenance and nine to 10 years to grow means you usually see it only at big facilities with staff and money,” he said.

Attington built an audience around its arrival, setting up a webcam and a time-lapse to draw in crowds.

“We’ve been on watch for the corpse flower for the last two weeks, so we’ve been watching it online, watching it grow, waiting for this moment for it to bloom,” said Kelley Newstead, a parent.

Newstead wasn’t aware it was local until her kids brought it to her attention.

“The height of it is absolutely incredible and the smell - yeah, I can’t describe it,” she said. “But it’s something that will stay with me for sure. I will remember that smell.”

A truly unusual flower, Attington says its bulb must reach a whopping 35 to 40 pounds to flower. A smell to die for in what has been a year that really, well, stinks.

“We’re having kind of an unpleasant time right now, and I think a lot of people are finding that this sort of thing is sort of like a little breath of fresh air,” Attington said.

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