Your Chance to Get a Whiff if you Wish “The corpse flower gets its name from the putrid scent it emits while in bloom”

by Prince Of Petworth July 28, 2016 at 9:55 am 16 Comments

corpse flower
Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

From a press release:

“The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum), also called “the stinky plant,” is about to bloom at the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) Conservatory. The plant went on display Friday, July 22. The Garden currently estimates peak bloom might happen between July 28-31. Once fully open, it usually remains in bloom for 24 to 48 hours and then quickly collapses. You can track the bloom’s progress via live video at http://www.USBG.gov/CorpseFlower.

The plant is famous for its large size, pungent odor, and unpredictable bloom schedule. The bloom is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world – reaching up to 12 feet tall in the wild. An inflorescence is a cluster of multiple flowers that in the case of Amorphophallus species looks like a single flower. The corpse flower has hundreds of flowers located at the base of the spadix (the large vertical center) inside the famous purple-maroon spathe (the part that looks similar to “petals”).

The corpse flower gets its name from the putrid scent it emits while in bloom to attract pollinators such as carrion beetles and flies. Some describe the scent as a combination of garlic, fish, diapers, and rotting meat.

The plant, first known to science in 1878, is native to tropical rainforests of Indonesia. Since such a large bloom requires lots of energy, it can take several years to several decades to store enough energy to bloom. Public displays of this unique plant have occurred a limited number of times in the United States. The U.S. Botanic Garden last displayed a blooming corpse flower in 2013.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Starting this weekend, the Conservatory will stay open until 8 p.m. while the corpse flower is on display, and will stay open until 11 p.m. during peak bloom. The Conservatory is located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. Visitors are encouraged to use Metrobus and Metrorail. Visit http://www.USBG.gov/CorpseFlower for updates on peak bloom timing and extended hours, to learn more about the plant, and to see a live video stream.”

  • LittleBluePenguin

    That’s gonna be a hard pass for me.

  • FridayGirl

    I’ve always wanted to see this!!! YES!

  • marigold

    I walked by a dead cat yesterday on Missouri Ave, I think I got my fill of decomposing body smell thanks :( Ps. RIP Kitty.

    • textdoc

      If you haven’t already, you can report that via 311.dc.gov, category Dead Animal Collection.
      Poor kitty. :(

      • marigold

        Thanks will do! I reported it to DPW the following day but haven’t heard back….

  • ***

    Just take a walk through Logan Circle in the morning. 18th street always smells like hot garbage.

  • skj84

    While I didn’t get a good whiff, I did get a picture in front of the plant last time it bloomed. Which was exactly today 3 years ago according to Facebook. Hope to check it out again and recreate my pic.

  • KenyonDweller

    I saw this last time and it’s worth a visit. It’s really freaky.

  • Charles

    The scent dissipates very quickly after the initial opening. The last bloom here happened right after the USBG closed for the night, and by the time I got there first thing the next morning, I couldn’t discern any significant odor coming off of it. Definitely worth a visit.

  • Yes! I want to experience this in person!

  • Pixie

    I saw this last time and it was so cool! Definitely worth a visit.

  • Shawstruck

    “Some describe the scent as a combination of garlic, fish, diapers, and rotting meat.”
    Just like Mille & Al’s!
    RIP :(

  • textdoc

    It’s not sufficiently open yet to be smellable, right? (Even though the frilly parts have started to separate from the main part?)

  • CittyKitty

    I want to see it but the US Botanic Garden is not a good place to visit on a hot day right?

    • textdoc

      It’s in the glassed-in part, not the outdoor part.

  • reporting from the front

    I work nearby and decided to pop in at lunchtime today.
    The frilly part was still pretty much flush with the surface of the plant (rather than starting to unfurl), and the plant definitely wasn’t smelling yet. (Apparently when it _does_ smell, however, it emits its smell mainly at night. I don’t think I realized this last time.) I’m going to keep an eye on the video stream so I know when to go back.


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