Revenge Of Stinky: Denver Botanic Gardens' Corpse Flower May Bloom In September

Aug 14, 2018

After three years, “Stinky” -- the Denver Botanic Gardens’ beloved corpse flower -- may be preparing to bloom again.

Denver Botanic Gardens horticulturist Nicholas Giaquinto predicted the rare bloom, which is said to give off an odor much like rotting corpse, to occur in early to mid-September.

Officially known as the “amorphophallus titanum,” it’s related to common house plants the philodendron and the peace lily, Giaquinto said. The rancid smell is used to attract pollinators such as flies and beetles.

The potent plant also attracts humans.

'Stinky' is estimated to be about 18 years old.
Credit Scott Dressel-Martin / courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens

“You want to turn away, but you also want to admire what it is,” Giaquinto said of the scent, which only occurs when the plant is in bloom. “There’s varying degrees of how people think how bad it smells. I also just think I have a terrible sense of smell because I didn’t mind it.”

During Stinky’s last “bloom watch” in 2015, nearly 3,000 visitors a day came to see - and smell - the plant in the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Orangery greenhouse.

A bloom is a rare event because the plant takes such a long time to store up enough energy in its corm -- its underground plant stem similar to a bulb or tuber, Giaquinto said.

“It sends up a leaf, it creates energy through photosynthesis, and sends that down to the corm,” he said. “And it keeps doing this cycle of sending up a leaf, going dormant, the leaf dies down until there’s enough energy stored. So it can take about 10 years -- even longer than that -- for it to flower.”

Stinky, who is estimated to be about 18 years old, is growing fast, Giaquinto said. The bud is growing an inch or more each day and is currently more than 2-feet tall. The last time the plant bloomed it was about 5-feet, 3-inches tall.

Once the corpse flower fully blooms, it only has about 24-48 hours before it withers, he said. Regular updates on Stinky will be shared on the Gardens’ social media accounts and website. Fans can also sign up to receive a "Bloom Alert."

“I’m sure we’ll be shouting from the roofs about when it starts to open up and bloom,” Giaquinto said.