San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers is celebrating the blooming of their most morbid inhabitant: the Corpse Flower. The plant, also known as Terra the Titan, earned its name from the aroma it omits once flowered. NPR described the stench as a cocktail of “fish, unwashed feet and rotting cabbage.”
The unique scent that Terra the Titan exudes is produced in order to attract insects, said NPR. The perfume of death appeals to a diverse array of insects. This guarantees the plant’s survival, allowing for maximum pollination.
While the flower has been a resident at this San Francisco greenhouse for three years, it is expected that the plant will draw great crowds. KQED reported that 16,000 visitors swept through the conservatory just to experience a Corpse Flower first hand during its four-day bloom in 2005.
The plant first reached the conservatory after San Francisco native Sidney Price relinquished his ownership. According to KQED, Price fell in love with the plant after purchasing two immature Corpse Flowers. They quickly sprouted though and the sheer vastness of the plant forced him to donate them. Price also admitted to the news organization that he feared that, if the Corpse Flowers bloomed, neighbors would believe Price was harboring a corpse.
Along with great odor, also comes great beauty. The Conservatory of Flowers explained that the Corpse Flower spends most of its time disguised as a tree. The plant rotates between leaf cycles, hiding a potato-like seed. It usually takes about 10 years for the flower to bloom.
Once mature though, the flower’s visual allure leave guests mesmerized. The Corpse Flower will reach heights upwards of 20 feet. Here, it will proudly display its plum interior. This is usually disguised by the flower’s absinthe-colored shell, only exposed for a short window of time.
The Corpse Flower has been estimated to be in bloom for two days. Because of this, the conservatory has extended its hours, staying open until 9 p.m. every night until June 19.
Find more information on the Corpse Flower at the Conservatory’s website.
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