Planning a visit to the New York Botanical Garden this weekend? Get ready to hold your nose. DNAinfo reports that the Bronx attraction’s rare “corpse flower”—a giant plant that emits an odor of rotting meat when it blooms—is slated to open any day now. The last time one of these stinky blossoms, officially known as Amorphophallus titanum, unfurled its petals at the Garden was nearly 80 years ago.
The corpse flower’s stench attracts pollinating insects. Aroma aside, Amorphophallus titanum is a sight to behold. Native to Sumatra, Indonesia, it’s one of the world’s largest flowering plants, reaching heights of up to 12 feet in the wild. Cultivated corpse flowers are a tad smaller, and range anywhere from 6 to 8 feet.
The plant itself consists of a thick central spike called a spadix, which is encircled by two rings of “male” and “female” flowers. A large, frilly leaf called a spathe wraps around the flowers, protecting them. These flowers can take up to 15 years to bloom. When they finally do, the phenomenon lasts for about 36 hours, the New York Daily News reports.
The first time a corpse flower bloomed at the New York Botanical Garden was in 1937. Two years later, another one of the stinky plants bloomed in 1939. For a while, the corpse flower was even known as the Bronx’s official flower, until it was replaced by the much prettier (and sweeter-smelling) daylily in 2000. The Garden acquired its latest corpse flower in 2007, and has patiently waited for it to open for nearly a decade.
If you want to witness the corpse flower's bloom, it's on display in the Bronx Botanical Garden's Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. But If you’re not in New York this weekend (or simply value your sense of smell), you can watch a live stream of the plant’s blooming online at the Botanical Garden’s website.
Banner image courtesy of iStock.
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