Get a whiff of this: Endangered corpse flower blooms in US Botanic Garden

Getting a whiff of the corpse flower in DC

The U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C. was packed with people Thursday all looking to get a peek and a sniff of the 7-foot-one Amorphophallus titanum, better known as the “corpse flower.” The flower had opened overnight and its characteristic smell would be strongest for the first 12-24 hours after opening, the Botanic Garden said.

Devin Dotson, who works for the Botanic Garden, described its stench when it hit 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 the wild, the corpse flower can be smelled up to a mile away in its attempt to attract flies.

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

Dotson said the Botanic Garden has 35 corpse flowers but there are less than 1,000 of the endangered plants in the wild.

While tourists stood in line waiting to get a good look at the corpse flower, a lot of them tried to name that smell.

“It smells sort of like a dead fish. Sort of like a weird, off garbage smell,” said visitor Stephanie Jackson. Her friend Andy thought it smelled more like a dead bird.

John Winters traveled with his family from Ohio. He took one sniff of the Indonesian plant and told WTOP: “It smells like cat urine.”

Kayla and Grace Allicino were in D.C. on vacation along with their father. The sisters from New York couldn’t have been more different in the way they interacted with the corpse flower.

Kayla took a big smell and said: “Smells like meat, like rotting meat.”

When WTOP asked Grace to describe the smell, she laughed and said, “I refuse to smell it. I’m breathing out of my mouth.”

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Jimmy Alexander

Jimmy Alexander has been a part of the D.C. media scene as a reporter for DC News Now and a long-standing voice on the Jack Diamond Morning Show. Now, Alexander brings those years spent interviewing newsmakers like President Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney and Sean Connery, to the WTOP Newsroom.

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