LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Most people love to give or receive sweet-smelling flowers, but this week, crowds are expected at Cal State Long Beach to witness the blooming of a rare flower that smells more like death.

A 4-foot corpse flower is expected to bloom by Thursday, a phenomenon that happens only every seven to 15 years. The bloom – which is actually a cluster of flowers – only lasts for about 24 hours and has an aroma more akin to that of a rotting corpse.

The Titan Arum is native to the rain forests of Sumatra and has been called the world’s largest flower. It can reach more than six feet in height when it blooms, opening to a diameter of three to four feet. When it blooms, it gives off the stench of rotting flesh, which attracts insects that pollinate the flowers deep inside.

“If you think about the reproductive biology, the adaptation of smelling like rotting flesh to achieve its goal of reproducing, that’s pretty fascinating too,” said Brian Thorson, the botanical curator and botany technician at Cal State Long Beach.

The campus’ corpse lily was nicknamed “Phil,” after Dr. Philip Baker, a late professor of botany.


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