corpse flower

Alan Greenblatt

You still have a few hours left to smell the corpse flower.

The Titan Arum, an Aroid plant from Sumatra, is currently in bloom at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It flowers rarely, but when it does, its strong odor definitely carries.

“It smells like rotting flesh,” said Andrew Wyatt, the Garden's vice president of horticulture. “It spreads the foul smell over many miles because it’s trying to attract pollinators from another plant several miles away.”

The corpse flower after blooming
Jim Santel | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The plant is a strange mixture of contradictions: Its flower takes only a few weeks to reach a height of nearly 6feet, but only a few hours to open and fade away. It is beautiful to look at, but not so pleasant to smell. Its rapid flowering comes as a burst of life, but its informal name evokes death. It’s known as a corpse flower.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

A second Amorphophallus titanum has bloomed at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It’s known as the titan arum – the flower can reach over six feet tall – or the “corpse flower” for its strong smell of rotting meat. The odor attracts flies, which help pollinate the plant.

The corpse flower can go for years without blooming. When it does, the flower lasts just a few days. Fewer than 160 are known to have bloomed worldwide, in the almost 120 years since the plant was identified by scientists in Sumatra.