The Uncanny Corpse Flower

Aug 9, 2013

A rare, interesting specimen, the corpse flower will only bloom and share its unique scent for approximately 48 hours before decaying.
Credit US Botanic Garden / Wikipedia

Phipps Conservatory will be getting a rare, rancid treat in the coming weeks. The corpse flower, a flower from the jungles of Indonesia, is best known for its distinctive smell of rotting flesh. Ben Dunigan, Curator of Horticulture at Phipps, says that the corpse flower models itself after the scent of a decaying corpse to convince flies to come and lay their eggs.

“You really do have to smell it to believe it,” Dunigan says.

Phipps’s flower—affectionately named “Romero” after Night of the Living Dead director and Pittsburgh native George A. Romero—will only spend 48 hours in full bloom, with 12 peak hours during which the flower will be at its most putrid.

Although the flower is set to bloom sometime within the next few weeks, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact date or time. Dunigan compares the experience to being a doctor predicting a birth.

“I could give you a date,” Dunigan explains, “but I can’t say for sure whether it would come early or later.”

Dunigan says that Romero is likely to bloom sometime around the week of the 18th.