Longwood Gardens

Smelling Cheese, Garlic, and Feet? That's Just the Rare ‘Corpse' Flower in Bloom

Longwood Gardens is offering extended hours for people to see and smell the pungent flower

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A peculiar, rancid-smelling, corpse flower, nicknamed “Sprout,” is set to bloom any day now.

Formally known as the Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum), the 6-foot-tall, maroon and bright green flower is located in the conservatory’s Tropical Terrace in Kennett Square, Chester County.

The name "corpse flower" was given because it reeks of rotting meat, cheese and feet when in bloom.

As with all things in nature, it's difficult to pinpoint its exact bloom time but Longwood estimated the smelly flower would reach "putrid peak bloom soon", according to a press release.

Corpse flowers such as Sprout usually bloom only every 7 to 10 years, which makes this a highly anticipated event. Turns out, a lot of people want to sniff this specific rotting stench.

The corpse flower is native to Sumatra, an Indonesian island. The first flowering in the United States was at the New York Botanical Garden in 1937.

The scent comes from the plant trying to attract its native Sumatran pollinators: carrion beetles and flesh flies. The precise combination of odors is meant to mimic an exact state of decomposition, where these bugs would want to lay their eggs.

"Sprout" began as a seed at the University of California Berkley in 2008, moved to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where it bloomed previously, and then to the Philadelphia-area gardens in 2018.

Longwood Gardens will be offering special extended hours for people to visit through its bloom — which typically lasts for only 24 to 48 hours and is best experienced at night.

Tickets are only available online to purchase, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and for those who won’t be able to visit Longwood Gardens during Sprout’s short bloom period, the gardens have set up a livestream on its YouTube channel.

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