A new specimen of the infamous corpse flower—Amorphophallus titanum, the massive Sumatran flower that is known for its putrid scent—is poised to bloom in the Bronx. The corpse flower is on display in the 's Haupt Conservatory as part of its current exhibition, Brazilian Modern: the Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx.
The flower, one of the world's largest, releases its distinctive odor (some compare it to the smell of rotting meat) during its brief 24-36-hour peak bloom. Apart from the stench, the plant's unpredictable blooming cycle is part of its mystique. Each corpse flower takes at least seven years to store enough energy to begin its bloom cycle. In this case, 13 seems to have been the lucky number: according to Marc Hachadourian, the NYBG's Director of Glasshouse Horticulture, the plant arrived at the garden in 2007 as a one-year-old seedling, and took about 12 years to sprout.
The New York Botanical Garden, which is located in the Bronx , has a storied history of corpse flower blooms. The first specimen ever to bloom in the western hemisphere occurred here in 1937. A second one blossomed two years later, prompting then Bronx Borough President James J. Lyons to designate the Amorphophallus titanum as the official flower of the Bronx (replaced by the daylily in 2000). Almost 80 years later, another specimen finally bloomed here in 2016, followed by a fourth NYBG corpse flower on June 26, 2018. Both were from the same group of seedlings as the current corpse flower plant. Since 2016, the noxious botanical phenomenon has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Bronx garden.
NYBG officials expect the peak bloom of this latest corpse flower within one to two weeks. Even if you can't experience the pungent scent in person, the sight of the enormous flower—a cluster of flowers on a fleshy spike that grows up to eight feet tall in cultivation, visible on the garden's —is impressive on its own. "It's like a baby being born," says Nicholas Leshi, the NYBG's Senior Director of Communications. "You can't predict when it will happen."