Corpse flower

A rare corpse flower started blooming Monday night at Longwood Gardens.

A rare corpse flower started blooming Monday night at Longwood Gardens.

The giant and stinky flowers usually last only 24 to 48 hours so Longwood Gardens has extended hours. Tuesday, July 14, the site will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Titan arum is native of the Sumatra island in Indonesia. The first one bloomed in the western hemisphere at New York Botanical Garden in 1937. Since then, the rare, giant and short-lived flowers have attracted crowds to botanical gardens in New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The plant is called a corpse flower because the flower spike smells like rotten meat or sewage. That smell is important for the plant’s survival. It attracts pollinators that feed on dead animals.

“Sprout” started from seed in 2008 at UC Berkley and bloomed at Chicago Botanic Garden in 2016. The garden gave the plant to Longwood Gardens in 2018. You can read about its life cycle since then.

After a year of dormancy, the plant’s growing tip emerged in May. It has grown to more than six feet tall and sometimes grew up to 6 inches a day, according to Longwood Gardens.

The site set up a live camera last week in anticipation of the big day (or night. The plant often blooms at night).

Monday night, the plant started blooming. The center spike, a spadix, is surrounded by a leaf called a spathe. The spathe started unfurling, revealing its crimson color and the small flowers inside.

“The stink hasn’t penetrated the Tropical Terrace yet, but it should become pretty pungent sometime overnight,” the garden shared on Instagram.

The stench starts when the flowers become receptive to pollen, the garden shared on Instagram.

Once it blooms, the flower will last 24 to 48 hours.

You can watch the live stream here:

Have you seen a corpse flower in bloom? Share your thoughts in the comments.