Phipps’ Rare Corpse Flower Set to Bloom, Drop Dead

Get your cameras (and nose plugs) ready because ‘Romero’ is expected to bloom in the next week.

Photo by Sean Collier


While there are many fascinating events on the calendar at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, very few of them are urgent, time-sensitive affairs.

Even fewer smell like death.

Sometime in the next week, Phipps will announce that Romero, its rare corpse flower, is in bloom. The plant, native only to the Sumatran rainforests, is the largest unbranched flower known to man, with the ability to grow as high as 8 feet tall. Much of that growth occurs in the last days before the corpse flower blooms; Romero has been growing several inches a day during the past week.

Currently — the picture you see above was taken Wednesday, so Romero looks similar but taller as you read this — visitors to Phipps will notice a number of large green leaves wrapped around a tall center column (or spadix). Soon the leaves will open, and Romero will be in bloom — but for no more than 48 hours. A bloom occurs only once every seven to 10 years, and even then only under ideal conditions. So, yes: an absolutely urgent horticultural event.

As for the name, throughout the first 12 hours of its bloom, the corpse flower emits a strong odor to attract pollinating insects. And — according to people who know this sort of thing — that odor is the same as the smell of a rotting corpse. Some flowers attract bugs that like sweet things; Romero attracts the bugs that like dead things. During the short bloom, the stench is expected to fill up two stories of the building.

Phipps will remain open until 10 p.m. every night until the bloom, and the evening of the event itself — corpse flowers usually bloom after dark — the conservatory will be open until 2 a.m. to accommodate everyone looking for a glimpse (and sniff) of this rare happening. While you’re waiting in line, you can enjoy a themed cocktail — and perhaps a film from that guy Romero is named for, who paid a visit to his namesake last week.

To make sure you don’t miss the event, keep an eye on the Phipps Facebook page — or, better yet, follow the flower on Twitter. Don’t worry if you can’t be there in person — PM will be on hand for the smelly occurrence, and we’ll report back with photos and detailed stink descriptions.


#Movies: Phipps to screen Night of the Living Dead


Update: This Wednesday at 8 p.m. and again at 10:30 p.m., Phipps will be hosting two screenings of Night of the Living Dead. The 8 p.m. screening will be introduced by producer Russ Streiner, with a short Q&A session to follow. Attendance is free with Phipps admission but limited. Go to the Phipps Facebook page for more details.



What’s going on today?



  • Unwind after work at a Zumba class held at Lawrenceville’s Stephen Foster Community Center. Salsa and cha-cha off any indulgences you enjoyed at lunchtime. — 6:15-7:15 p.m.