3 (Smelly!) Facts about the Corpse Flower

The Corpse Flower (also known as the Stinky Plant) is now blooming at the U.S. Botanic Garden.  What’s so special about a stinky flower, you ask?  We’ve compiled some fun facts for you:

1.) It’s called the corpse flower for a reason!

The Amorphophallus titanum, a.k.a the corpse flower or stinky plant, emits a putrid smell that is most potent during peak bloom at night into the early morning. The odor is often compared to the stench of rotting flesh. The inflorescence also generates heat, which allows the stench to travel further. This combination of heat and smell efficiently attracts pollinators, such as carrion beetles and flies, from across long distances.

2.) The corpse flower doesn’t have an annual blooming cycle.

The flower emerges from, and stores energy in, a huge underground stem called a “corm.” The plant blooms only when sufficient energy is accumulated,making time between flowering unpredictable, spanning from a few years to more than a decade. It requires very special conditions, including warm day and night temperatures and high humidity, making botanic gardens well suited to support this strange plant outside of its natural range.

3.) Public viewings are very rare!

This plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and first became known to science in 1878. In its natural habitat, the titan arum can grow up to 12 feet tall. Public viewings of this unique plant have occurred a limited number of times in the United States. The U.S. Botanic Garden previously displayed blooming titan arums in 2003, 2005 and 2007, 2010, and 2013.
Added Bonus: The Botanic Garden, located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, will stay open until 11 PM tonight (Wednesday)..so don’t miss your chance to see–and smell–this very unique plant!