CSULB’s rare corpse lily, Phil, has bloomed again—way ahead of schedule

What a show-off.

Phil, the rare corpse lily that captured the hearts and noses of many when it last bloomed in 2019, has bloomed yet again. The flower is known for releasing a noxious smell—like decomposing animals or rotting flesh—to the delight of eager olfactory observers.

It usually takes seven to 10 years for one of these rare tropical plants to bloom in cultivation, but according to Cal State Long Beach’s Botanical Curator and Botany Technician Brian Thorson, he’s got Phil’s care down pat.

“I baby these plants,” Thorson told CSULB. “I know what they like.”

While it might take nearly a decade for the plants to bloom in cultivation, Thorson said that a mature and healthy plant can actually bloom every other year.

The lead-up to Phil’s last bloom was much more dramatic: Thorson had been caring for Phil for 10 years before it began to show signs of its first bloom. It took about a week and a half for it to bloom then.

The flower only stays open for 24 hours.

The college announced Phil’s impending bloom on Saturday, setting up a live webcam for the public to see it in action. Over the course of a few days, viewers could see the plant changing: its leaves ruffling, its color changing from a pale green to a deepening maroon and a “mild aroma” emitting from the outer leaves. The webcam showed the flower blooming on Monday evening.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to catch a whiff because of COVID-19 restrictions still in place at the university, but we can watch live as it closes back up for what could be anywhere from two to 10 more years.

Check out the funky fresh experience from 2019:

VIDEO: Phil the bloomed corpse lily greets fans at CSULB

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Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.