A new stinky corpse flower will soon bloom at the New York Botanical Garden

March 29, 2023

The corpse flower in 2018. Photo by Rhododendrites on Wikimedia

New York City’s famed foul-smelling flower is preparing to bloom. The Amorphophallus titanumknown as the “corpse flower” for the rancid odor it emits, is expected to bloom in the “next week or so” at the New York Botanical Garden. The unique flower, the largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom, takes years to form flower buds and has a bloom life cycle of just one or two days.

Photo credit: The New York Botanical Garden

Native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, the corpse flower features a central spike called a spadix that has small flowers in rings around its base, according to the garden. The spadix can grow up to 12 feet tall in its natural habitat and about six to eight feet tall in cultivation.

The spadix is wrapped in a petal-shaped leaf called the spathe, which unfurls and exposes the flowers inside when ready to bloom. The corpse flower does not bloom annually, instead only blooming when enough energy is accumulated in the plant’s underground stem called a “corm.” A young corpse flower can take up to 10 years to begin its bloom cycle.

When fully in bloom, the flower gives off a stench described as the smell of rotting meat, aimed at attracting pollinators that feed on dead animals.

The first corpse flower in the Western Hemisphere bloomed at NYBG in 1937 and 1939, with another one not blooming until 2016. According to the garden, the plant attracted more than 25,000 visitors in 2016 and two million views of its progress on a live video feed.

NYBG announced on Tuesday it anticipates the corpse flower to bloom in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory in the “next week or so,” although the final opening of the bloom is unpredictable.

You can keep an eye on the plant’s progress via live cam here. For an in-person whiff of the rare plant, buy an All-Garden Pass here.


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