Something Stinks in DC

The Blooming Corpse Flower

DC is buzzing today. The Corpse Flower at the Botanic Gardens began blooming this morning! Why should you care? Let me enlighten you.

  • In natural circumstances, corpse flowers only bloom every ten years. That’s right – once per decade.
  • The flower gets its name due to the putrid smell released upon blooming. Often compared to a dead body, vomit, or “a dirty sock stuffed with dog poop & rotten fish.”
  • Once the flower blooms, it releases intense heat (for a flower) that makes the smell 2356 times worse, and attracts beetles and flies for miles around.
  • The Corpse Flower is largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom. For you non-sciencey people (like me) that means it’s massive. When it went on display at the DC Botanic Garden it was 3.5 feet tall.
  • It’s been 3 years since the last Corpse Flower was displayed in bloom in DC.

These facts are cool and all. But what struck me most about the Corpse Flower blooming, is that several Corpse Flowers across the US (Bloomington, Indiana; Sarasota, Florida; Washington, D.C.; St. Louis and New York) are all blooming at the same time. Talk about ominous. And botanists are currently unable to determine why. It is rare enough to see a “titan arum” bloom, but to have five bloom at the same time? Unprecedented.

If you’re not in the District – or if you don’t have time to hop over to the Botanic Gardens in the next few hours – you can watch a livestream of the flower blooming right here.

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