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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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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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