© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

You Can Watch A Rare, Stinky 'Corpse Flower' Bloom On Live Video

A "corpse flower" is seen in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., in 2013. This is not the same flower that's about to bloom in New York.
A "corpse flower" is seen in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., in 2013. This is not the same flower that's about to bloom in New York.

This corpse flower could be just seconds away from blooming. And you can watch it live, thanks to the New York Botanical Garden. This way, you don't have to smell its famous, disgusting odor.

Unfamiliar with this so-called "botanical phenomenon"? The giant flower, which can grow to be 8 feet high, is better known for its smell than its beauty.

There's a reason it's called a corpse flower. Here are a few descriptions of that smell:

  • "Rotting flesh."
  • "[R]otten meat, or bad fish, or dirty socks."
  • "[S]ort of the odor you get from a decaying carcass, roadkill if you will, or that odor you see on the bottom of a dumpster after a hot summer day."
  • Behind the safety of your computer screen, you can witness the Amorphophallus titanum's show with less sensory assault. The botanical garden gives this rundown of what to expect:

    "Each day of careful tending and feeding has led up to this moment: a brief yet glorious window in which the enormous plant (up to eight feet high) will unfurl, displaying the striking red interior and uncanny scent to which it owes its name. This is the first time that a blooming titan-arum has been put on display at the Garden since 1939, and this unique plant is unpredictable—it may be in flower for only one or two days."

    According to National Geographic, the flower's terrible smell is meant to attract helpful dung beetles and flies.

    "It makes them think there's rotten meat somewhere to lay their eggs, and then that helps the corpse flower to get pollinated," the greenhouse and garden director with the University of Wisconsin's botany department tells the magazine. "It smells bad to us, but it smells great to flies."

    And the stream above isn't your only chance to watch a noisome bloom. You can also stream video of rival corpse flowers at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and on the Indiana University campus.

    Happy viewing!

    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.