Cal Poly Hosts Viewing of Rare Corpse Flower Bloom

The giant, stinky bloom will be the first ever at Cal Poly 

SAN LUIS OBISPO — It’s big, it’s rare, and it smells like rotting flesh. For the first time ever, a Titan Arum, or corpse flower, will bloom at Cal Poly. 

A corpse flower’s bloom can grow more than 10 feet high and four feet in diameter. 

The plant grows from a large underground stem and sends up one leaf a year, which can reach over 10 feet tall. After 10 or more years, instead of making a leaf, the plant sends up a huge maroon funnel, called the spathe, with tiny flowers on a huge spike. 

Cal Poly horticulture and botany students have been growing the Amorphophallus titanum for several years — and this is the plant’s first flower.

Corpse flowers are open for only two days. At its tallest, this bloom holds the record for the world’s largest unbranched cluster of flowers arranged on a stem, called an inflorescence.  To attract the insects that pollinate the plant, the spathe acts like a funnel, sending out a foul aroma similar to that of rotting flesh.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and smell one of the world’s wonders right here in San Luis Obispo,” said biology Professor Jenn Yost, who is also a Cal Poly alumna. 

California saw its first Titan Arum bloom in 1999 at the Huntington Botanical Garden in Southern California. 

Cal Poly’s is the first bloom on the Central Coast and will open around July 7 — but the exact time and day are unknown. The public is invited to view the bloom from 2 to 10 p.m. on the day before bloom and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after bloom. Check the College of Science and Mathematics Facebook page at for updates on when the flower will bloom.

The bloom is at the Tropical House in Horticulture Unit, adjacent to the Poly Plant Shop. Parking is available in Lot H14 (, or see attached map).

Masks and physical distancing are required, and only one household can visit the plant at a time.

A livestream of the flower can be viewed online at



Bloom time updates:

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