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Rare “Corpse Flower” Is Ready to Bloom at The New York Botanical Garden Any Day Now

Rare “Corpse Flower” Is Ready to Bloom at The New York Botanical Garden Any Day Now

The bloom cycle happens very quickly, so get to the Bronx ASAP with the kids.

The New York Botanical Garden is home to a rare flower with a surprisingly pungent odor–the “corpse flower,” otherwise known as one of the largest and most putrid-smelling flowers in the world. The plant is also finicky–its bloom cycle occurs over a brief 24-to-36-hour peak bloom, which should happen within the next few weeks. The flower is said to smell like rotting meat. Looking for something a little different to do with the kids as June turns into July? This might be it.

The Amorphophallus titanium is close to blooming in NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. On May 15, NYGB horticulturalists noticed a bud emerging from the soil in the corpse flower’s container, but couldn’t be sure if it was a leaf or a flower bud. On June 17 they confirmed it’s a flower–a phenomenon that graces NYGB infrequently. The last bloom occurred in June of 2018, before that in 2016, and before that, not since 1939. NYGB’s first corpse flower bloom happened in June of 1937, which was the first time one had bloomed in the Western Hemisphere. Each bloom has attracted a mass of flower-loving spectators. According to NYBG, the corpse flower is the largest unbranched inflorescence–a cluster of flowers on a spike–in the plant kingdom, and it draws crowds. It grows to up to 12 feet tall in its native Sumatra and Indonesia and six to eight feet tall in cultivation.

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The plant attracts people because it is so unpredictable. It takes seven to 10 years for a young corpse flower to save up enough energy to begin its bloom cycle, according to NYGB, and all of that growth and effort is used up in one to two days. At first, the bud grows four to six inches per day, and then growth slows significantly. If the kids are interested in seeing something unique and smelly, traveling up to NYBG is a good way to cross “giant rare flower that smells like rotting meat” off their summer bucket list–just get there quickly!

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