SF Conservatory of Flowers corpse flower

Time Is Short To Experience Smelly Wonder in San Francisco

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
July 24, 2018 - 2:25 pm

Crowd gathers in front of Suma the Titan at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) - There's still a little bit of time left to see and sniff the foul-smelling corpse flower at San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park while it's in bloom. 

Suma the Titan began blooming on Sunday. 

Eric Hupperts, a Conservatory of Flowers manager, described the flower's unique smell as, "a compost heap mixed with stinky cheese mixed with a smelly sock."

Hupperts said it's ironic that the repulsive odor attracts pollinators. "Its niche is to attract pollinators that like corpses and dead things," said Hupperts. "It tricks the bug to come to it by the smell, and they arrive and there's no food but hopefully they have pollen on them already from a previous flower."

The fetid blossom apepars once every seven to 10 years for just three or four days. Next, the bloom will collapse and come back looking similar to a palm tree so the flower can recharge and get energy from the sun.

Nick came from Redwood City to get an idea of what corpses and zombies might smell like. "It's cool that they sorta die and come back like a phoenix," he said to KCBS Radio. 

The Conservatory said the smell has now somewhat dissipated but Serena, visiting from Oakland, doesn't mind. "We don't quite smell anything right now but it's just so spectacular I really wanted to see it."

The flower's latin name is amorphophallus titanum, which translates to misshapen phallus. 

"If you look at that bloom, that center spadix that's kinda yellowish now, you can see where the imagination went with that name," said Hupperts. 

The flower is expected to remain in bloom through Wednesday or Thursday.

Reported by Holly Quan. Written by Jessica Yi.