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Categories: Culture

Flower (Over)Power(ing): Suma the Titan Blooms

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The Conservatory of Flowers is open until 10 p.m. for the olfactorily curious to wait in line for the chance at a nice deep inhalation of rotting meat smell. ‘Suma the Titan,’ the Conservatory’s Amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower, bloomed last evening, and she’s got a little more oomph left in her still. The flower-bearing spike, or “spadix,” is now fully emerged from the vase-shaped petals, or “spathe.”

You should definitely check it out tonight, because while the odor of decaying flesh isn’t expected to be as strong as it was yesterday, it will be stronger than it was this afternoon when SF Weekly shoved our way to the front to breathe in that sweet malodorous festering. The real stench spreads late at night, however.

Or you could just watch it on the livestream.

In honor of this momentous occasion, here are three truths and a lie about Amorphophallus titanum:

  1. Suma is 56 inches tall.
  2. When Terra the Titan, the Conservatory’s last corpse flower bloomed, staff at the Chicago Botanical Garden dispatched pollen from the male flower to pollinate it with Q-Tips, but it arrived a few hours too late and the window had closed.

    This is part of Terra the Titan, the corpse flower that bloomed in 2017.

  3. The flower itself has no culinary or medicinal applications, but a docent said that people in the plant’s native Sumatra harvest the yam. They have to be careful, because it’s toxic to the skin.
  4. Suma ate three badly behaved children without warning, then spat out a Timex.Suma the Titan, open until 10 p.m., at the Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Drive, Golden Gate Park, conservatoryofflowers.org
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Peter Lawrence Kane

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