Categories: Culture

That Sweet Stench of Death: Another Corpse Flower Will Bloom


Last summer, an Amorphophallus titanum bloomed for three days, filling the Conservatory of Flowers with the enticingly atrocious odor of rotting meat for three consecutive evenings. Ever keen to wait in line for stuff, especially things whose Latin name translates as “giant shapeless penis,” San Franciscans crowded around “Terra the Titan” to inhale the disgusting scent of carrion.

And you’ll get another chance soon!

It’s not Terra this time; corpse flowers only bloom once every seven to 10 years, far more than the time the average human armpit requires in order to get anywhere near that nasty. This time, it’s “Suma the Titan,” a 10-year old specimen that’s never bloomed before. Native to the jungles of Indonesia, the corpse flower’s noxiousness is an evolutionary adaptation intended to attract pollinators that lay their eggs in rotting meat, and you can watch her progress on the Conservatory’s live stream.

“Usually, only one structure – either a leaf or an inflorescence – emerges from an Amorphophallus during each cycle,” Kristen Natoli, Chief Nursery Specialist, said in a statement. “When Suma’s bud started to appear we were at the edge of our seat,” she added.

While the Conservatory doesn’t have an exact date yet, they’ll announce it as soon as they know. But the institution is already planning to stay open extra hours to accommodate demand — and you can also check out Terra in her dormant phase, preparing to gross us all out again sometime between 2024 and 2027.

Whatever you do, try not to be like those people who groped Terra without approval or consent last year, after she’d bloomed. That was bad form, they got so busted and shamed, and Terra dispatched billions of spores to their house to give them olfactory night terrors for the next month.

Peter Lawrence Kane

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