Endangered corpse flower blooms once again at Vancouver conservatory, releasing putrid stink

·2 min read
Two onlookers gaze at the enormous corpse flower at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver on Aug. 19, 2021.  (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)
Two onlookers gaze at the enormous corpse flower at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver on Aug. 19, 2021. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)

A towering corpse flower has released its pungent odour in full bloom at Vancouver's Bloedel Conservatory for the second time in three years.

The Vancouver Park Board says the nearly two-metre-tall plant — dubbed "Uncle Fester" — blossomed late Wednesday evening, releasing its trademark fetid stench.

The titan arum plant, native to the Sumatra region in Indonesia, has been described as smelling like "rotten flesh, with notes of old fish and decayed cabbage" when its flower emerges.

It usually only blooms once every 10 years, to attract pollinators in the form of flesh flies and carrion beetles, but can release its caustic whiff every two years in cultivation.

"With the specialized soil mix, fertilizer and daily maintenance, it has a much better chance of flowering [in the conservatory] than it does in nature," said Innessa Roosen, acting conservatory lead at Bloedel Conservatory.

"We've been waiting patiently for the flower to open. [...] It was very exciting."

Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC
Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC

Uncle Fester, obtained from a botanical garden in North Carolina in 2016, first subjected Vancouverites to its putrid stink in 2018.

Advance tickets required to get a whiff of the flower

The Park Board has extended hours at the conservatory for the next 48 hours, when the plant will remain in bloom before reverting back to its dormant state. Advance tickets are required to get a whiff of the flower in all its rotten glory.

Titan arum is an endangered species, with only around 1,000 left in the wild, according to the Park Board.

It is the plant with the tallest bloom in the form of an unbranched floral structure, and can grow more than three metres tall.

The flower at Bloedel Conservatory, in Queen Elizabeth Park, is expected to be at its most rancid on Thursday morning.

Updates on tickets to see the flower can be found on the conservatory's Twitter page.

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