Flower that smells like rotting flesh to bloom at the Bloedel Conservatory


A corpse flower when it is blooming. Photo Shutterstock

A tropical plant called the corpse flower is getting ready to bloom at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park.

When the Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum or corpse flower) blooms it will unfurl its large flesh-coloured petal and emit fumes described as smelling like hot garbage, discarded diapers or rotting flesh. The fumes are meant to attract pollinator insects like dung beetles or flesh flies that feed on dead animals.

“The Park Board was very fortunate to acquire this rare plant a few years ago,” says Vancouver Park Board chair Stuart Mackinnon in a press release. “Our excellent horticultural staff have lovingly tended it ever since. Any day now residents and visitors will have a chance to witness one of nature’s strangest displays.”

The Bloedel Conservatory plans to extend its hours so the public can see the plant during its short bloom period, which lasts between 24 to 48 hours.

The corpse flower at the conservatory is six years old and these plants generally require seven to 10 years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. The titan arum could bloom again every two to three years or not for another decade.

This will be the first time a corpse flower has bloomed in B.C. and they are native to the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Corpse flowers are classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened plants.

Vancouverites will also get the chance to name the Bloedel specimen in an online competition over the next days.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: melissa@vancouverisawesome.com