Update on June 27: The New York Botanical Garden announced at 7:35 a.m. that its corpse flower has begun to bloom, so make your excuses to your boss and head up to the Bronx! The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will be open for extended hours on Wednesday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., including a Corpse Flower Happy Hour featuring a special cocktail from 5-6:30 p.m.
Summer brings all kinds of questionable smells to New York City, but nothing quite compares to the stench of death that’s about to hang over the New York Botanical Garden.
A rare corpse flower, said to smell like rotting meat, is set to erupt into full pungent bloom inside the garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory within the next week or two. Botanists can’t say exactly when the flower will open, but when it does your chance to experience this unique flower will be very narrow: just 24 to 36 hours, and it won’t bloom again for several years. To time your visit, keep an eye on the garden’s live feed.
Horticulturists first noticed a flower bud on June 1, which grows about 4-6 inches a day. The flower was moved from its behind-the-scenes home in the Nolen Greenhouse, where it has been tended for years, to public display on June 21 in the Palms of the World Gallery.
The last time a corpse flower bloomed at the New York Botanical Garden was July 2016, the first time it had happened in 80 years. This flower is a new specimen and, according to the garden, the “unpredictable blooming cycle and notorious stench are part of the plant’s allure.” Which, honestly, #relatable.
The distinctive odor is just one of the plant’s irresistible charms to attract insects like beetles and flies that feed on dead animals, which it relies on for pollination. The flower’s central fleshy spike (spadix) is a deep red color to resemble flesh, and it self-heats to approximately human body temperature to make sure every insect in the neighborhood knows there’s a tasty treat waiting for them.
Among the largest plants in the world, Amorphophallus Titanum reaches up to 12 feet tall in nature, but tops out at 6-8 feet in captivity. It’s native to Sumatra in Indonesia, and the first flower bloomed in the Western Hemisphere back in June 8, 1937, right here at the New York Botanical Garden. Then-Bronx Borough President James J. Lyons even designated it the borough’s official flower, though it was unseated by the daylily in 2000.
The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx. The All-Garden Pass ($23 adults and $10 weekdays, $28 adults and $12 kids weekends) includes access to the corpse flower, as well as its less revolting exhibit on painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s time in Hawaii and the gorgeous garden of native island flowers accompanying it.