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Corpse Flower Blooms at US Botanical Garden

  • July 9, 2022

The corpse flower started its bloom Tuesday night, and supposedly smells like rotting garbage. Photo courtesy of the US Botanic Garden.

A stinky giant started blooming at the United States Botanic Garden Tuesday night and is currently on display for visitors to see—and smell.

The accurately named corpse flower, an endangered plant native to Indonesia, is expected to be open for 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, already bloomed last month. But aside from the plant’s dramatic life cycle and height, it is most famous for its smell, which is also comparable to garlic, fecal matter, or another scent Washingtonians know too well: “If you’ve ever walked by a really stinky trashcan in the middle of a summer day, where it’s kind of heated up and just foul smelling, that’s a pretty good representation of what it smells like,” says Devin Dotson, a spokesperson for the gardens.

Despite its stink, which is meant to attract pollinators and lasts for the first 24 hours that the flower is blooming, the plant fascinates scientists and and garden visitors alike, Dotson says. The flowers have drawn thousands of visitors in the past, and Dotson expects more than 15,000 people will come to see this flower, the oldest in the gardens’ collection, throughout its bloom. Dotson suspects most people come just to get a whiff. “It’s the same reason people take a bite of something and they’re like Ew, taste this,” Dotson says.

But the plants serve a bigger purpose than to just stink up DC for a day. The corpse flower collection is

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