Among the beautiful horticulture that characterizes the New York Botanical Gardens’ new exhibit, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx, the Amorphophallus titanum is a spectacle all its own. The “corpse flower,” as it is more commonly known, is a rare Indonesian flower with a distinct smell and blooming schedule. The flower takes years to bloom and when it does, its pungent smell can only be experienced for a few days. Lucky for New Yorkers, the corpse flower is currently in full bloom now!
In the 82 years since it first bloomed at the New York Botanical Garden in 1937, to much fanfare, the corpse flower has come into full bloom only a handful of times. After the flower’s poignant scent made its debut, the flower didn’t bloom again for another two years. When it does eventually bloom and release its odor, it only does so for 24-to-36-hours. In the late 1930s, the unique quality of the corpse flower drew the attention of Bronx Borough President James J. Lyons, who declared the Amorphophallus titanum as the official flower of the Bronx. It was replaced in 2000 by the sweeter smelling daylily.
The alluring (or repugnant) quality of the corpse flower’s scent—which is said to resemble the smell of rotting meat—combined with the irregularity of the flower’s bloom schedule makes the corpse flower a spectacle which draws huge crowds to the Botanical Gardens. Untapped Cities got a whiff of the legendary smell on Friday morning and it wasn’t as strong as expected, but in person, the flower’s unique beauty was overwhelmingly captivating.
The flower is currently displayed within New York Botanical Gardens’ beautiful new exhibit, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx. As Todd Forrest, NYBG’s Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, puts it: “If Roberto Burle Marx had a corpse flower, he would show it off!” Since the corpse flower takes up to ten years to store its energy to bloom, this year’s blooming is sure to be a stinky spectacle for the ages! To smell the flower yourself, get to the New York Botanical Garden this weekend. Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.