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Ultra-rare corpse flower to unfurl in San Francisco within days

Christy Matasick collects pollen from a blossoming corpse flower at the UC Botanical Garden in 2008. The rare flower releases a scent that smells like rotting flesh. | Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park will soon be laced with the scent of decaying flesh. The ultra-rare corpse flower is set to unfurl within the next seven to 11 days, according to Brendan Lange, director of marketing and communications at the Gardens of Golden Gate Park. 

The flower, nicknamed Scarlet, hasn’t bloomed since 2019. Corpse flowers take an average of seven to 10 years to bloom for the first time and can rebloom every three to five years after the initial flowering. 

Scarlet has a telltale fold peeking out from under its giant, polka-dotted leaves—what will eventually unfurl to become the burgundy skirt of the massive, stinky bloom. 

The rare corpse flower is expected to bloom within the next seven to 11 days. | Courtesy Conservatory of Flowers 

It’s not the only Amorphophallus titanum to bloom at the Conservatory. In 2020, a corpse flower nicknamed Terra the Titan bloomed for a second round—marking the first time the phallic plant had re-bloomed there. 

The plant emits its highly unusual scent to mimic the smell of rotting flesh, luring insects it needs to pollinate. Once in bloom, a corpse flower will last for only 24 to 36 hours. 

You can visit the dynamic flower—which is changing by the hour—at the Conservatory of Flowers from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. 

Julie Zigoris can be reached at jzigoris@sfstandard.com