Corpse Flower Blooming at U.S. Botanic Garden

WASHINGTON — One of the most alluring, in ways both good and bad, attractions of the United States Botanic Garden is making its appearance now.

The Amorphophallus titanum is perhaps better known by one of its other, less charming names: Corpse Flower or Stinky Plant. The reasons behind these unflattering nicknames are perhaps self-explanatory, but gruesome nonetheless — when the flower blooms, it gives off a remarkably putrid odor, one that is often compared to the stench of rotting flesh.

That description likely won’t send many visitors rushing to the Botanic Garden, but the rarity and strangeness of the flower is what draws people in.

It blooms infrequently and irregularly. According to the Botanic Garden, it blooms only once it’s harvested enough energy in its underground stem — sometimes that happens annually, sometimes it happens much less frequently. For reference, this is the first bloom of this particular plant, which is six years old.

The flower is massive, the “largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom,” per the Botanic Garden. It measured roughly 3.5 feet tall when it went on display.

It went on display on Friday, July 22, and peak bloom began early Tuesday. The Botanic Garden display will be open to the public until 11 p.m. Tuesday. This is good news for all those who delight in the disgusting, as the plant’s smell tends to be at its worst in the late evening and early morning.

The Botanic Garden posted a live stream of the bloom, available below.

For those interested in seeing the peak bloom, make time to do so this year. The blooms are rare, with only five blooms occurring at the Botanic Garden in D.C. in the past 13 years: in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2013.

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