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What's That Stench?! The Corpse Flower Is Starting To Bloom

2016's Corpse Flower.
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2016's Corpse Flower. Sai Mokhtari / Gothamist

Hey, what's that putrid new stench wafting up from our trashpile of a city today? It smells sort of like it might if the sidewalks were made of raw meat, left to bake at freakish temps on garbage day; as if the mingled juices of old milk and sewage had seeped into rotting flesh that's been pounded by thousands of fungal feet. Yes, you guessed right, that's the official scent of NYC's summer flower assaulting your nostrils: the corpse flower is finally in full bloom, according to the New York Botanical Garden. Just after 2 p.m. today we got the word from NYBG spokesperson Nicholas Leshi: "Corpse flower is starting to open!"

Presumably, you have kept your unblinking eagle eyes fixed on the garden's corpse flower live feed since June 21st, when we learned that this hell flora would shortly unleash its "infamous odor" on the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. NYBG horticulturalists first noticed a nascent bud on this rank specimen in May, and by mid-June, had confirmed that it would flower soon: The Amorphophallus titanum blossoms at an alarming rate, with buds expanding between four and six inches daily once the process is in motion. Once it hits the eight-foot mark—God help us—this cursed bloom "self-heats to approximately human body temperature," according to the NYBG, "which helps disseminate odor particles," puffing them out into the air like smoke through a chimney.

After that spectacular display, you have between 24 and 36 hours to either immerse yourself in a stink it seems unlikely you will ever unsmell—scientifically speaking, the malodor breaks down to rotting fish, Limburger cheese, and dirty socks—OR to shelter in place with 10 turtlenecks pulled up over your face, out of an abundance of caution.

If you do not presently feel quite up to the task of standing before one of these beastly buds as it spews forth its decomposing cabbage breath, just check out the livestream:

In the meantime, you might reasonably wonder what kind of omen we're dealing with here. I'm not prepared to say that a scent worse than "one thousand pukes" heralds the end of days, but at the very least, one might read it as a sign of a very sweaty sweat season ahead. Who's to say, really?

Update: The NYBG has announced that The Haupt Conservatory will be open for extended hours on Friday, June 28th, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., complete with Corpse Flower Happy Hour on the Conservatory Plaza starting at 6 p.m. Visitors can enjoy cocktails and other refreshments for purchase. On Saturday, June 29th, the Garden will open at 10 a.m. with extended evening viewing until 8 p.m.

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