The Corpse Flower began blooming Tuesday night and reportedly smells like rotting garbage. Photo courtesy of United States Botanical Garden.
A stinking giant began blooming at the United States Botanical Garden on Tuesday evening and is currently on display for visitors to see and smell.
The aptly named Corpse Flower, an endangered plant native to Indonesia, should be open in the next few days. The plant is one of more than 20 mature titan arum plants in the gardens collection. Two of the flowers, which typically bloom every three to ten years in the wild and can grow up to 12 feet tall, have already bloomed last month. But aside from the plant’s spectacular life cycle and height, it’s best known for its smell, which is also comparable to garlic, feces, or another smell Washingtonians know all too well: “If you’ve ever walked by a really stinky trash can in the middle of a summer day, where it’s kinda hot and smells foul, that’s a pretty good representation of what it smells like,” says Devin Dotson, spokesperson for the gardens.
Despite its stench, which is believed to attract pollinators and lasts for the flower’s first 24 hours of bloom, the plant fascinates scientists and garden visitors alike, Dotson says. The flowers have attracted thousands of visitors in the past, and Dotson expects more than 15,000 people to come and see this flower, the oldest in the Gardens’ collection, throughout its bloom. Dotson suspects most people come just to smell. “It’s the same reason why people take a bite of something and they’re like Ew, taste itsays Dotson.
But the factories have a bigger purpose than just stinking DC up for a day. The corpse flower collection is part of a conservation effort by botanical gardens across the country to preserve endangered plants. International The Nature Conservation Union predicts that the flower has declined by more than 50% in the past 150 years, mainly due to habitat loss, and that only about 1 remain. 000 in the wild. Although the gardens don’t plan to move the collection into the wild anytime soon, scientists are working to build genetic diversity among the plants and keep them healthy in case the wild population disappears. “Instead of actively trying to repopulate at this point, we’re trying to make sure our populations are good – are they healthy, do they have good genetic diversity, do we have a plan moving forward. ?” said Dotson.
For now, Dotson says the corpse flower collection helps visitors learn a bit more about conservation efforts and the plant itself. Although flowering is rare and only lasts about four days, the Botanical Garden has created a near-perfect environment for the plant that allows it to bloom more often than in the wild. Dotson says they have reduced the interval to two or three years. “I hope having these flowers back to back surprises and delights and we can do some education,” Dotson says. “They’re huge and they’re beautiful and they stink and they’re short-lived and they have all these fascinating elements.”
The garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and the blooming of the flower is expected to last for the next few days. If you want to brave the corpse smell, you should head there as soon as possible.