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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 Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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