‘Sprout stinks’: Rare, giant corpse flower set to bloom at Longwood Gardens

Sprout at Longwood Garden’s Tropical Terrace

Guests pay Sprout a visit at Longwood Garden’s Tropical Terrace. Sprout will soon unfurl its ruffled spathe and release its putrid scent. (Hank Davis/Longwood Gardens)

Longwood Gardens has a rancid-smelling flower to cure your quarantine boredom.

The sprawling Chester County botanical garden is home to Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) — commonly known as the corpse flower.

The plant, affectionately named Sprout, will reach a “putrid peak bloom” soon in the Conservatory’s Tropical Terrace.

Titan arum, one of the largest flowers in the world, reaches heights of 10 feet or more, and its smell can be best described as putrid. What Longwood calls the stinky star of the plant world typically takes about 10 years to reach the size necessary to support a bloom.

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According to Longwood, Sprout was germinated from a tiny seed by the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2008.

“Ten years later, this titan came to live with us,” Longwood said. “Adoption papers and all.”

Once titan arums grow to a size capable of flowers, they can re-flower every three to four years, given proper culture and environmental conditions, Longwood Marketing and Communications Specialist Abbey Gau told WHYY.

Longwood says Sprout first emerged in mid-May, and has since grown at a mind-boggling rate. He/she now stands nearly 6 feet tall (Longwood says yes, the flower is both male and female).

A stunning chartreuse green on the outside, Sprout will soon reveal its blood-red interior. When titan arum blooms, the flower stinks like rotten meat and only lasts 24 to 48 hours.

Sprout at Longwood Garden’s Tropical Terrace
“Well hello there. I’m Sprout,” Longwood Gardens announced on Twitter. “I’m a #TitanArum. And I’m about to make a BIG STINK!” (Hank Davis/Longwood Gardens)

“We are all on bloom watch right now,” Longwood wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post. “Sprout grew 3.5 inches overnight, which means its growth is slowing down. This may be an indication that Sprout is gearing up for blooming (and stinking!) soon.”

As with most things in nature, though, Longwood says it can be hard to predict.

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Folks who want to experience the rare bloom may do so in person or online with the garden’s 24/7 “stink cam.”

Botanists say the bloom is best experienced at night. To accommodate its “smelly friend,” Longwood on Wednesday implemented extended hours that will be in effect through the flower’s bloom.

“Sprout can’t wait for you to see and smell it in all its fetid glory,” Longwood said.

Extended garden viewing hours are listed below:

  • Thursday, July 9: 6 a.m. – midnight
  • Friday, July 10: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 11: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

All membership levels (with the exception of Gardens Premium Members) must make reservations at this time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Timed admission tickets are required.

Those interested in buying tickets can do so here.

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