Garden braces for Trudy’s magnificent stink

Excitement is mounting at the UC Botanical Garden as an infamous corpse flower builds to its foul-smelling bloom.

The stinky one — officially a giant Titan Arum — first bloomed at the garden in 2005 and garden experts have been able to induce a bloom in one of its titan arums many years since then.

Paul Licht and Trudy

Botanical Garden director Paul Licht gives a sense of the Titan Arum’s enormous size (Botanical Garden photo)

Already, the garden has experienced a surge of people hoping to catch Trudy at its moment of glory.

Its progress can be tracked on the Botanical Garden’s Facebook page.

“While we cannot predict the exact date of opening, based on previous experience we are guessing that the flower is likely to open any day,” garden experts said in an email Monday.

To accommodate visitors, the Bot Garden has extended its open hours. Tuesday is a special member evening, from 5:30-8 p.m. On Wednesday, the garden will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Trudy was named by Bill Weaver, the local man who raised it and loans it to the garden for its bloom. It also blossomed in 2009 and 2012.

The garden has been raising its own Titan Arums since receiving seeds in 1995 from James Symon of San Francisco, who had collected them on Sumatra and gave them to several botanical institutions. Several have bloomed since Trudy first did its thing, all nicknamed things like Odora and Little Stinker.

Not only does the Titan Arum send out a powerfully disgusting smell, designed to attract flies and bugs to pollinate, but it also has the distinction of being the largest bloom of any plant, according to botanical garden experts.

The plant typically must reach at least 6 or 7 years of age before it blooms but often it is much older.  In a normal cycle, it produces a single enormous branched leaf that dies after about 16 months, leaving the plant dormant. When it next sprouts, produces either another single leaf or the enormous blooming structure.

The bloom only remains open for a day or two, and its stench is produced for only eight to 12 hours before its central structures collapse.