Rare Blossom Is First in Southern California in 7 Years;
Community Invited to Witness Event June 19 - 22
The Orange Coast College Horticulture Department is inviting the public to witness the blooming of the Amorphophallus titanum plant – commonly known as the corpse flower – from Thursday, June 19, to Sunday, June 22.
Blooming is a rare occurrence for the corpse flower; the last time it happened in Orange County was at Fullerton Arboretum in 2007. It could be decades before OCC’s plant blooms again.
The flower is famous for its noxious odor, which has been compared to rotting flesh. But the terrible smell lasts only for 24 to 48 hours while the plant is blooming, according to OCC horticulture instructor Joe Stead.
The OCC Horticulture Department will open to visitors between 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. June 19 through June 22. Admission and parking are free with a suggested donation of $3 to support the college’s horticulture program. Visitors can park in Lot E, off of Merrimac Way (between Fairview and Harbor Blvd.) in Costa Mesa.
Stead has never seen an Amorphophallus titanum plant bloom, although he has been nurturing OCC’s pair of plants since 2006 when the seedlings arrived from Huntington Botanical Gardens. He hopes to pollinate OCC’s blossom with frozen pollen or harvest the pollen from OCC’s plant for the future.
The species is considered endangered, but OCC’s Horticulture Department, Huntington Botanical Gardens and Fullerton Arboretum are working together to propagate new plants.
The plants have both male and female flowers, but they will not self-pollinate. The blossom’s strong odor works to attract pollinators in the jungle, Stead explained.
OCC’s 11-year-old plant is four to five feet tall and weighs in at 27 pounds. When fully mature, it could grow to 11 feet and 150 pounds, Stead said.
OCC will follow the tradition of naming the plant when it blooms. The Coast plant will be known as “Little John,” a play on the ironic name of the Robin Hood character and in honor of John Lenanton, a horticulture professor at OCC for more than 40 years.
Interested observers can also watch Little John in action on the OCC Horticulture Department webcam at www.orangecoastcollege.edu/corpseflower
What: Blossoming of Corpse Flower
When: June 19 - June 22; 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. daily
Where: Orange Coast College Horticulture Gardens
2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa
Admission: Admission is free; suggested $3 donation to support OCC Horticulture
Parking: Free event parking in Merrimac Lot (Lot E), between Fairview and Harbor Blvd.
Contact: Juan Gutierrez, Director, Marketing and Public Relations, 714-432-5725
Joe Stead, OCC Horticulture Program, 714-432-0202, ext. 26231
Orange Coast College, founded in 1947, is one of the nation's top transfer schools. With a student population of 25,000, OCC provides exemplary programs leading to Associate degrees and 130 career programs. The college's 164-acre campus is located in the heart of Costa Mesa.