It’s rare that a single flower gets this much media attention but the Corpse Flower, aka the Amorphophallus titanum, only blooms once every four to five years. Native to Sumatra, there’s one at the New York Botanical Garden, which they’ve been tending to with care for a decade, which is how long it takes for the plant to store enough energy to bloom.
The plant, the largest “inflorescence in the Plant Kingdom” gets its corpse flower nickname from the smell it emits when it blooms, similar to that of “rotting flesh,” or a “dead animal” writes the NYBG. Its Latin name is derived from Ancient Greek roots: amorphos, “without form, misshapen,” phallos, “phallus”, and titan, “giant”). So, a misshapen giant penis.
It’s the first time a titan-arum (one of its nicknames for short) has been on display at NYBG since 1939, and this specific plant was acquired in 2007. Two earlier versions of the corpse flower have been at NYBG, one bloomed in 1937 and the other in 1939. There’s a live cam on the NYBG YouTube channel, where you can see it in action. The bloom began yesterday at 3:30pm and is expected to last 24 to 48 hours. The museum has extended hours today as a result.
Untapped Cities writer Laurie Gwen Shapiro visited this morning and noted that though the smell was strong (and “stinkier by the minute”), she believes it is going to get stronger over the course of today.
Corpse flower before bloom
Next, read about the Secrets of the New York Botanical Garden.