Credit: Gage Willy | Courtesy

For the first time in Cal Poly history, the rare and distinctive Titan Arum, or Corpse Flower, bloomed on campus July 9, 2020. 

The flower typically blooms once every several years for about 24 to 48 hours. 

Because the flower will only be in bloom for about two days, the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) invited community members to view the flower all day Friday July 10 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and for a few hours on Thursday and Saturday at the Cal Poly Plant Shop on Via Carta with COVID-19 precautions in place. 

Grown by CAFES horticulture students in the Cal Poly greenhouse, the Corpse Flower, named “Musty” by student workers, has been growing and preparing to bloom for the past five years.

Moreover, Cal Poly horticulture and botany students have been growing these plants for more than 10 years but had yet to see a single one flower until now, according to the Cal Poly College of Math and Sciences YouTube channel

“Finally, after having leaves come up and die down, two weeks ago something broke soil and it wasn’t a leaf and we were graced with a flower,” said recent Cal Poly graduate and current Cal Poly Plant Conservatory Curator Gage Willey.

According to Willey, it typically takes longer for the flower to germinate, or sprout. There is another corpse flower on campus that has been doing so for the last 17 years and he hopes it is next to bloom. 

Known for its very large inflorescence and distinctive odor described as being akin to rotten flesh, the flower has attracted thousands of viewers to the Cal Poly greenhouse, Willey said. 

“It’s been spectacular to see how the community is drawn together by [the Corpse Flower],” he said.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing to actually see one of these [Corpse Flowers] bloom,” said Willey in a story posted by the CAFES Instagram @calpoly_cafes

The Cal Poly College of Math and Sciences YouTube channel is also live-streaming the viewing, where one may see various students and community members posing for pictures with the plant. 

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