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Sacramento's summer of corpse flowers

Second rare and stinky specimen blooms in Curtis Park

Corpse flower
Quite a specimen! This corpse flower is at Public Land
Store in Curtis Par. (Photos courtesy Austin McManus/
Public Land Store)

Is Sacramento smelling more like Sumatra? For the second time this summer, the fragrance of one particularly stinky flower brings a touch of tropical jungle to another local spot for viewing – and sniffing.

Another corpse flower is about to open, this time at Public Land Store, the plant/design store and gallery on 21st Street in Curtis Park. Also called titan arum, this gigantic bloom – which can be several feet tall – is expected to open as early as Saturday.

“We are excited to be hosting the illusive and wondrous blooming of the Amorphophallus titanum –otherwise known as the corpse flower – inside our gallery here at Public Land Store,” said Austin McManus, the store’s co-owner. “All thanks to our friends over at the Sacramento State University Biological Sciences Department, we are very much honored to be able to connect the public with such a beautiful and unearthly sight.”

Native to Sumatra, the corpse flower got its nickname due to its scent, designed to attract its favorite pollinators – small flies.

Besides its unforgettable stench, the corpse flower has another distinction. This flowering plant has the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence, that pointy thing in the middle covered with clusters of little flowers.

Corpse flower in flowering state and another in vegetative state
Public Land Store has two titan arum plants: one in the flowering
state, left, and the other in its vegetative state.

“In our gallery, we have an Amorphophalus titanum in its vegetative stage and the flowering one for comparison,” McManus noted.

This seems to be Sacramento’s corpse flower summer. In June, a corpse flower bloomed in a Roseville High School greenhouse. Light and temperature-sensitive, titan arum is notoriously difficult to get to flowering stage, making two corpse flowers in one summer in the greater Sacramento area especially noteworthy.

Public Land Store is located at 2598 21st St., Sacramento. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.



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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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