Longwood Gardens

Stinky, Rare ‘Corpse Flower' Blooming Now at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens is offering extended hours for people to see and smell the pungent flower during its limited bloom

A peculiar, rancid-smelling, corpse flower, nicknamed “Sprout,” has bloomed at Longwood Gardens in Chester County. The bloom only lasts 48 hours and began Monday. The gardens have a 24-hour live stink cam rolling on their website in case you can't make it to see the rare bloom in person.

The stream page on the website reads in part: "We’re proud to say we’ve raised a stink … our Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum)—commonly known as the corpse flower—is blooming NOW."

The 6-foot-tall, maroon and bright green flower is located in the conservatory’s Tropical Terrace in Kennett Square.

The name "corpse flower" was given because the bloom reeks of what some people describe as rotting meat, cheese or feet when in bloom.

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.

In about two days, the flower's spadix will drop and will go dormant for anywhere from four months to a year.

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 offered special extended hours for people to visit last week, through its bloom — which typically lasts for only 24 to 48 hours and is best experienced at night. Longwood Gardens will be offering extended hours on Tuesday, July 14 from 10 a.m to 10 p.m, to experience the flower.

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 embedded below.

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