Whiffs of the Corpse Flower: A Floral Spectacle Draws Crowds in D.C.

by Jennifer

The U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., saw a surge in visitors on Thursday, all eager to catch a glimpse and a whiff of the towering 7-foot-one Amorphophallus titanum, commonly known as the “corpse flower.”


Devin Dotson, a staff member at the Botanic Garden, vividly described the aroma that emanated when the flower reached its peak bloom: “Instead of one dead mouse, think of 20-25 all in a pile, and they’re hot and you’re standing there on top of them… All in the same room and they all had gone bad at the same point.”

In its natural habitat, the corpse flower emits a scent detectable up to a mile away, enticing flies for pollination purposes.

“It’s all about pollination,” explained Dotson. “They are doing the smell, they are doing the opening here to try to attract the pollinators.”

Dotson revealed that while the Botanic Garden boasts 35 corpse flowers, there are fewer than 1,000 of these endangered plants left in the wild.

As tourists queued up for a closer look at the unusual bloom, many attempted to put words to the unique fragrance.

“It smells sort of like a dead fish. Sort of like a weird off garbage smell,” remarked visitor Stephanie Jackson, while her companion Andy likened it more to the odor of a deceased bird.

John Winters, who journeyed from Ohio with his family, took a single whiff of the Indonesian plant and declared: “It smells like cat urine.”

Kayla and Grace Allicino, vacationing in D.C. with their father, offered contrasting reactions to the encounter with the corpse flower.

Kayla boldly took in a deep breath and remarked: “Smells like meat, like rotting meat.”


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