Something stinky is afoot in Washington, DC. No, it's not what you think! A "corpse flower" (Amorphophallus titanum, sometimes known simply as "Titan") will soon bloom at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory. You can watch it happen, live, online:
You don't want to miss the flower -- the bloom only lasts 24-48 hours, and the last time this happened in DC was 2007. Its legendary rotting-flesh smell will draw visitors to take a whiff of something truly disgusting, though fortunately for us there's no way to transmit the odor online. Yet.
As I watch this morning (while basically nothing is happening -- it's a plant just sitting there while visitors wander by and take pictures), over 900 others are with me on UStream. Join us in watching, live, as this stinky flower blooms over the coming days! (If that's too exciting for you, watch a drop of pitch slowly form.)
More context from the Botanic Garden Conservatory:
The titan arum does not have an annual blooming cycle. The time between flowering is unpredictable, which can span from a few years to a few decades. The plant 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. This plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and was first discovered in 1878. Public viewing of this unique plant has occurred a limited number of times in the United States. The U.S. Botanic Garden last displayed a blooming titan arum in 2007.
We last covered breaking corpse flower news in 2006, when a stinky titan bloomed in Brooklyn (and yes, there was a webcam of that too).
Read more about the flower from National Geographic, including this wonderful line:
"We'd never get away with putting out a dead animal for you to smell," [curator Bill McLaughlin] chuckles. "But somehow when it's a flower it's perfectly acceptable."