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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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