Under normal circumstances, witnessing a corpse flower in bloom is a rare experience. Even rarer is seeing the plant reach peak bloom at an abandoned gas station, as hundreds of residents of Alameda, California, were able to do this week, SFGate reports.
When nursery owner Solomon Leyva realized his corpse flower was putting on its once-in-a-decade display, he found a way to share it with as many people as possible. On Monday, May 17, he hauled it to a defunct gas station in his hometown of Alameda and set it up where passersby could get a good look. News of the plant gathered attention on social media, and soon people were lining up down the block to see (and smell) it in person.
The corpse flower, or Amorphophallus titanum, typically takes seven to 10 years to bloom. When the plant does finally unfurl, its vibrant, maroon interior is visible for just 24 to 36 hours before it withers. In addition to their infrequent bloom cycle, corpse flowers are famous for their distinct smell, which has been compared to rotting flesh.
Leyva estimated that at least 1200 people had made the trip to see the flower by 4 p.m. on Monday. Locals will likely have to wait until one of the corpse flowers at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers reaches peak bloom to witness such a rare act of nature again. The last time one of them bloomed was in 2020.