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Corpse flower ready to bloom at Roseville High

Domek Greenhouse open to public to view (and smell) rare titan arum


Tall vase-shaped corpse flower bloom
The corpse flower is about 6 feet tall, nearly ready
to bloom. (Photo courtesy Photo is by C.J. Addington)


Something’s stinky in Roseville. Head towards Roseville High School and look inside the Gene Domek Greenhouse.

That’s where you’ll find one of the rarest of blooms – a 6-foot-tall titan arum, also known as a corpse flower. With a smell and look like no other, the mammoth flower is expected to fully open Tuesday or Wednesday. Although it takes a decade or more for a titan arum to flower, the bloom itself lasts only a day.

To celebrate, the Domek Greenhouse will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 22. If that ginormus flower does indeed open, the greenhouse will stay open until 9 p.m. Admission is free.

To a receive a free, automatic text alert that the flower has opened, simply text the word "corpseflower" to 52855. It will not ask for any personal information.

Though unintentional, the corpse flower’s appearance is perfectly timed; this is Pollinators Week. And this flower smells the way it does to attract its favorite pollinators – flies.

When it comes to growing titan arum, the Domek Greenhouse staff has had unusual success coaxing corpse flower fully into bloom. This is the school’s fifth one.

“This is quite an achievement for a simple suburban high school, as these titanic flowers are usually only seen at large universities and well-funded botanical gardens,” said greenhouse manager C.J. Addington. “What makes this particular bloom even more unusual is that it is a repeat bloom. This plant successfully bloomed back in September of 2020, and has now made a second flower less than a year after its first.”

Titan arum, or Amorphophallus titanum , can be almost impossible to grow in Sacramento. Even under greenhouse conditions, small things can disrupt the bloom cycle. A security light left on outside the greenhouse stopped one flower from fully opening.

“These huge plants originate in the steamy jungles of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and are extremely difficult to bring to bloom,” Addington explained. “One plant can take a decade to reach flowering size from seed, and when it finally does bloom, the massive flower only opens for one day before closing up again.”

The tuber for this specimen, nicknamed Titan Arum Thing II, weighed almost 40 pounds and measured more than a foot across. The entire process, from planting to bloom, is documented by Addington at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/norcalaroids/albums/72157719311111513

“These finicky blooms do not always successfully open – and we have had two that have failed in the past,” Addington said, “but this plant has bloomed successfully once already, and we are optimistic that it will again.”

Depending on the flower’s condition, the greenhouse may extend viewing into Wednesday.

“The greenhouse is not normally open to the public, but due to the unique opportunity to see this botanical wonder, we are opening our doors to the general public for free viewings before the flower opens, and then for extended hours when it blooms,” Addington said.

The Gene Domek Greenhouse is in the central square of Roseville High, located at 1 Tiger Way, Roseville. Parking is available in the lot at the end of Campo Street on the west side of campus. Enter through the gate next to the swimming pool. The campus asks visitors to please practice social distancing; masks are at your discretion.

To view the corpse flower without the stench, check it out on YouTube. To see a live video of the flower in the greenhouse, search YouTube for "Roseville High School Corpse Flower" and look for the red "Live Now" tag.

For more information, contact Addington at caddington@rjuhsd.us .

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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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