It’s not a Tim Burton movie (although it might be worth looking into, plot-wise…), but rather an actual plant that smells like rotting flesh. And it’s blooming in Washington, D.C. right now.
The corpse flower, also called titan arum, is a rare plant that only blooms for two days, and that time is now. The giant flower is bell-shaped, with a large stamen, and smells sweet at first. But as the hours tick by, it soon carries the stench of decay that has been compared to a “pile of dead animals”.
Hundreds of visitors to the U.S. Botanic Garden have crowded in to see–and smell–the plant while it’s still open, and many more have logged on to view a webcam that monitors the plant’s bloom progress.
The flower has a very good reason for being so stinky; it attracts flesh-eating pollinators like flies and carrion beetles, where they get coated with pollen inside the plant’s spadix and then fly away to cross-pollinate another titan arum in bloom. The plant is native to rain forests, and this is the first one to bloom in the U.S. since 2007. The flowers can grow to be taller than an average man and are generally a deep blood-red color, which goes well with the smell it emits.
Image: Hometown Pasadena