A rotting, malodorous corpse flower is truly the most appropriate symbol of summers in NYC, and now we've got a new one blooming/dying/reeking of hot garbage.
The New York Botanical Garden (which claims the flower's "notorious stench [is] part of the plant’s allure") has sent out an alert about the Amorphophallus titanum, one of the largest flowers in the world, stating:
On this first day of summer, a new specimen of the horticultural marvel is about to bloom and is now on display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory... Known as the corpse flower, this giant plant releases an infamous odor, which some have described as similar to the smell of rotting meat, during its brief 24-to-36-hour peak bloom.
The blooming cycle on these big boys is unpredictable, and the NYBG notes "it can bloom anytime during the next week or two!"
The corpse flower is not a New York City native, but this isn't the first the city has seen, in fact, it was even the official flower of the Bronx from 1939 (when the first one bloomed at the NYBG) through 2000 (it was then replaced by the daylily). The flower made a big return in 2016, when crowds descended on the Botanical Garden to catch a glimpse (and a whiff) of the first corpse flower in 77 years. (These things take seven to ten years to store enough energy to bloom for the first time, so even though we've been seeing them again in recent years, it's still a pretty rare experience.)
As for the city's latest stinker, NYBG horticulturists noticed a bud emerging from the soil in the corpse flower’s container in mid-May, and on June 17th they confirmed it was a flower bud (and not a leaf bud). If you're wondering how a tiny bud can turn into one of the largest flowers so quickly, the NYBG explains that "in the first several days of the bloom cycle, the bud grows about four to six inches per day." It grows up to around 8-feet, and then the magic happens... During bloom, it "self-heats to approximately human body temperature, which helps disseminate odor particles. The spathe unfurls during the course of about 36 hours (full bloom) before withering and dying back."
In the past, the smell has been described to us as: overcooked cabbage, bad food, rotting flesh, "a number of terrible odors all mixed together from rotting fish to limburger cheese," and a strong odor that is "not as bad as being in a back alley in New York City during the summer."
Once it opens, the life cycle of the bloom is only one or two days. Starting this weekend, visitors can head to the NYBG to see the corpse flower, or watch it on the Garden’s livestream.