If you're a botany fan with a weak sense of smell, the Bloedel Conservatory's newest attraction is for you.
Vancouver's hottest plant-based sight is Uncle Fester. A gigantic flower the height of one Brock Boeser, this corpse flower is back with just its second bloom, ever.
It's called a corpse flower because it's got the general (apparent) scent of a corpse.
We're trusting the experts on that.
"It's meant to attract pollinators and those pollinators are the carrion beetle and the flesh fly which are attracted to the smell of rotting meat," says Innessa Roosen, the acting conservatory lead at Bloedel Conservatory. "It's purpose is that its flower can be pollinated to produce fruit."
No word on what a pie made from that flower tastes like.
The top of the plant hits 73 inches right now, towering over visitors.
"It's huge, which is the coolest thing about it in my opinion," says Bloedel visitor Christa Taylor. "I expected it to be stinkier from far away but I had to be pretty close to it to really get that rotting flesh smell."
She and Kurtis Raymond jumped at the opportunity to see the famous flower after missing it before. They're eager to see the bloom while it lasts, which is not a long time; corpse flowers usually collapse less than 48 hours after first opening up. Uncle Fester opened its crimson petals last night (Aug. 18).
"I know people describe it as a rotting smell," says Raymond. "But I don't think I've smelled that in my life so it's just very putrid."
"Musky," Taylor adds.
"Yeah, musky," agrees Raymond. "Distinct."
Grace Kingsley, who works at the conservatory, has a slightly different description.
"It smells like a very mouldy room that hasn't been used in a couple hundred years. It's not very nice," she says. "It doesn't smell like death, it just smells stale. it's not very pleasant at all, I'm not a fan of it.
"I would recommend it one time, and that's it."
The titan arum, also known as the Amorphophallus titanum by fans of Latin and botanists, is an endangered plant. There's a global effort to cultivate them to keep the unique flowers around.
Uncle Fester spends most of its life in a greenhouse off-site, and was brought into the glass dome in Queen Elizabeth Park for its blooming period. It's the second time the 12-year-old plant has flowered, says Roosen. The average titan arum blooms three times, but it varies. While the period between blooms can be over a decade, Uncle Fester's last flower was in 2018; titan arum in cultivated situations tend to bloom more quickly because they're in optimum living conditions.
Roosen says she was excited when she saw it opening on the live stream, since it's a long process.
While the next two days at the conservatory are sold out, there is a live stream that shows the size of the plant. If you skip through you can see how the petals are already starting to wilt. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the smell can't be transmitted via the internet. Yet.