Update: The plant has completed its bloom cycle and is no longer on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), also known as the corpse flower or stinky plant, is in bloom at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory. It went on display on Thursday, July 11, and began to bloom on Sunday, July 21. Once fully open, it may remain in bloom for 24 to 48 hours, and then it will collapse quickly.
The renown of the titan arum comes from its great size – it is reputed to have the largest known unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom.
Referred to as the corpse flower or stinky plant, its putrid smell is most potent during peak bloom at night into the early morning. The odor is often compared to the stench of rotting flesh. The inflorescence also generates heat, which allows the stench to travel further. This combination of heat and smell efficiently attracts pollinators, such as dung and carrion beetles, from across long distances.
The titan arum does not have an annual blooming cycle. The time between flowering is unpredictable, which can span from a few years to a few decades between flowerings. The plant requires very special conditions, including warm day and night temperatures and high humidity, making Botanic Gardens well suited to support this strange plant outside of its natural range.
This plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and was first discovered in 1878. Public viewing of this unique plant has occurred a limited number of times in the United States. The U.S. Botanic Garden last displayed a blooming titan arum in 2007.
The U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory is open to the public, free of charge, every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Conservatory will have extended hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, July 22, and Tuesday, July 23, please check www.usbg.gov for additional details. The Conservatory is located at 100 Maryland Avenue SW, in between the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall. Visitors are strongly encouraged to take Metrobus or Metrorail.
Time lapse video of the titan arum bloom: