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Rare corpse flower to bloom at UC Santa Barbara

By Claire Scholl, NewsChannel 3 Assignment Editor, assignmentdesk@keyt.com
Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
Published On: Jul 23 2013 12:46:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 24 2013 01:55:53 PM CDT

Corpse Flower about to bloom at UCSB

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

A large and smelly plant known as the corpse flower is about to bloom at UC Santa Barbara.

It's the most unusual plant in the campus greenhouse.

"It looks like a snap pea!" said one young visitor.

The 7-year-old plant is called Titan arum, or more commonly known as the corpse flower because of its strong aroma.

The flower doesn't smell like anything now but in the next couple days when it blooms, the smell will be so bad, some people say they can't eat for hours afterwards.

"I've been told to expect a combination of decay and excrement," said Danica Taber, UCSB greenhouse manager.

Unlike other flowers that rely on bees for pollination, this one counts on flies. It attracts them with the smell of rotting flesh, and they in turn spread its sticky pollen.

But before that happens, some visitors wanted to see the flower before they could smell it.

"I've never seen something like that before, I grew up in Arizona. We have cacti and almost nothing else," said Dan Nguyen, a UCSB graduate student.

The plant is rare and isn't something you'd find in your backyard.

"No, it's not. It's found in the wild, only on the island of Sumatra," said Taber.

That's what makes this flower extra special. It takes five to seven years before it's ready to bloom. Now it's a waiting game to take the first sniff.

"Kind of like the royal birth here. We don't know when exactly it's going to happen. We just have to wait and see," said Taber.

It could take another couple days for the 4 foot 6 inch plant to bloom, and by then it could grow even more. Overnight, it grew 2 inches and it isn't stopping.

Although the stench will be strong, it will only last a day or two.

To view the live webcam of the plant and for times when you can view the corpse flower, click here.

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