Watch the Rare Bloom of a Corpse Flower

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens / Denver Botanic Gardens

The Amorphophallus titanum, better known as a corpse flower, gets its Latin name from three roots: amorphos (without form), phallos (penis), and titanum (giant).

If the name isn’t enough to entice you, the bloom of this giant plant smells like rotting meat—an odor that is apparently alluring to insects which flock to the flower and pollinate it.

That might not sound like anything a human observer might be interested in, but there's a reason this stinky blossom is a draw for gardens across the country: The plant can take up to 15 long years or more to bloom, and when it does, it only lasts about two days. So after the 15-year-old, 5-foot-tall corpse flower at the Denver Botanic Gardens began to bloom on Tuesday night, crowds started forming at 4:30 a.m. the following day. A total of around 22,000 eventually came to see the plant, though there were reportedly some complaints that it wasn't as pungent as hoped. (If you can call that a complaint.)

The bloom in its twilight, and you can watch it wilting in real time on the garden’s live stream. Even as it fades, Denver’s corpse flower will live on: Its pollen will be sent across the country to pollinate a corpse flower at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

You can also go back and watch the flower unfurl: it was all captured and compressed into a hypnotic timelapse video, which can be found below.