UPDATE: The Titan Arum has bloomed! The U.S. Botanic Gardens are keeping their extended hours, 10 AM to 8 PM, today Monday, July 22, so visitors can enjoy the sights and smell of the plant.
The flower has been named Mortimer and is continually updating his twitter: @DCTitanArum.
It opened fully between 5:30 and 7:30 PM on Sunday, July 21. On average, the plant has a 24-48 blooming time period. The Botanic Garden staff was worried Mortimer would close early, but so far he remains open.
As the tweets continue to come in, it seems the verdict is that this titan arum is not as stinky as expected, but still quite a sight and celebration!
Summer is in full swing, and noses are rejoicing in the sweet smells of chlorine, coconut and corpses.
Yes, corpses. The cause of this stench is the titan arum, a plant native to Indonesia. The U.S. Botanic Garden, however, has its own individual titan arum, and the garden is gearing up for the plant to bloom.
Titan arum does not have a routine blooming schedule. The last time a blooming one was on display was 2007, according the garden’s website. While it takes a while to open fully, the plant will stay open for between 24 and 48 hours and then quickly collapse into itself.
The plant’s stench is comparable to rotting flesh and strongest during the peak bloom from night to day, advises the Botanic Garden. Due to the heat, its odor travels farther than normal. In the wild, this stench attracts insects like the dung beetle from miles away.
Why does it take so long to bloom? The titan arum stores energy in its underground stem — the corm — and, when it reaches the energy threshold, begins to unfurl and bloom.
The Botanic Garden is extending its hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 16 and 17, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow visitors to witness the slow-moving bloom. If any visitor is unable to make it to the garden, there is a live streaming video on the USBG website.