Photos by Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune

Beauty and the stink: Corpse flower blooms at Cal State Long Beach

July 10, 2019

Photos by Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune

One of California State University, Long Beach’s (CSULB) two corpse flowers, named Laura after the former dean of the school’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has bloomed for the second time. This species of plant rarely flowers, and when it does it only lasts up to 48 hours. CSULB faculty displayed the plant for the public to view next to the school’s Hall of Science on July 10.

Kristen Naeem

Brian Thorson, CSULB’s botanical curator and technician, explained details of the corpse flower’s reproductive process and life cycle to onlookers. He also informed observers that the plant contains both male and female parts, and pointed out those different structures on Laura for the crowd to see themselves.

Kristen Naeem

Corpse flowers are native to Sumatra, Indonesia, and usually only bloom after a decade of cultivation, if at all. Laura first bloomed in 2015 after only seven years and has blossomed again after only four years, a rarity for the flower’s species.

Kristen Naeem

Corpse flowers are known to give off a pungent odor that is meant to mimic the smell of decaying flesh. This scent attracts carrion beetles, who eat dead creatures, to aid in the pollination of the flower.

Kristen Naeem

When the corpse flowers are not on display, they are located in CSULB’s greenhouse. While CSULB does possess more Corpse Flower seeds, it is difficult to tell if they would be viable if planted.

Kristen Naeem

While Laura has now bloomed more times than CSULB’s other corpse flower, Phil, it is significantly smaller in comparison. While Phil stood at 69.5 inches when it opened, Laura only reaches 49 inches.

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