Rare "corpse flower" blooms in Mandarin back yard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- Mandarin's Calvin Beaver is a collector of collections.

He has more than 75 antique fans he's working on. He's got antique diver's helmets, old tractor seats, even axes and hammers.

It's part of being retired from the Navy, he says, now he stays busy with dozens of hobbies.

But he says he puts the most work, and most love into his garden.'

He has thousands of rare and exotic plants that need way more than some sun and water to grow.

"It's all about the accomplishment of making something produce, and I only want to do it with the rarest of plants," he said.

His most impressive plant is the very rare amorphophallus titanum, also known as the 'corpse flower'.

"Because it smells like rotting meat," he said. "It attracts the pollinating insects."

The stench of the plant is perhaps what people notice first, but he says it's a very beautiful bloom.

The flower only stinks while it is in bloom, a day or so, and he says only travels about ten feet.

But the novelty of the odor is only the surface of his collecting story.

This plant is very tough to raise, especially in the northeast Florida climate.

"There are about 100 things that can kill these plants, and only about 3 ways you can keep them alive," he said.

He's managed to keep 7 alive.

He says he bought the original seed for $100 12 years ago.

"I'm quite overjoyed that it finally did it," he said of the blooming plant.

He said he's worked hard the last 12 years to see only one bloom.

"It was shocking."

The one bloom was rare enough, but on top of all his excitement, it seems a second corpse plant will be blooming in his back yard anytime.

So, the neighbors should be warned.

"Well it's only happened once in 12 years," he said laughing. "They should give me a pass."


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