SOURCE: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

June 08, 2016 19:42 ET

Exotic Corpse Flower Now Blooming at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Causing a Big Stink

Public Invited to Visit This Rare, Pungent Plant During the 12 to 48 Hours of Its Bloom

PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwired - June 08, 2016) - Tonight at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the exotic corpse flower affectionately known as "Romero" began blooming, a rare spectacle that occurs once every three to seven years. This odiferous occasion lasts for only 12 to 48 hours and fills Phipps' glasshouse with a smell to wake the dead -- the pungent scent of rotting flesh. Phipps is extending its hours until 2 a.m. on Wed., June 8, to allow guests the opportunity to get a whiff of this remarkable plant. The last admission ticket for tonight, Wed., June 8, will be sold at 1 a.m. We will reopen to the public at 6 a.m. tomorrow, Thurs., June 9.

Romero's admirers can delight in branded merchandise from Phipps and a special "Drop Dead Deal" membership package for those looking to make repeated visits to monitor his pungent progress. Plus, guests are encouraged to take a "smellfie" with Romero and share their photos on social networks using the hashtag #RomeroatPhipps. Snapchat users can also apply a limited edition Romero geofilter to their images.

True to its name, the corpse flower's (Amorphophallus titanum) bloom gives off an overwhelming scent of rotting flesh in order to attract the beetles and flies that pollinate it. This master of mimicry resembles rotting meat in more ways than smell -- the insides of the bloom are blood red and as it blooms, the flower heats up to about 100 degrees, several degrees above human body temperature, in order to increase the reach of its scent.

The origin of Romero's name is rooted in Pittsburgh culture. He was named for the celebrated filmmaker George A. Romero, whose 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead was filmed in the Pittsburgh region, and who made an appearance at Phipps to pose with his namesake plant the last time it bloomed in 2013.

For more information on Romero, please visit phipps.conservatory.org.

More about Amorphophallus titanum

Corpse flowers are the world's largest un-branched flower structures and typically only bloom every three to seven years. However, Romero has been hard at work restoring his energy so he can rise again. After his last dramatic display in 2013, the big stinker got some well-earned rest and went dormant for about eight months. Then, he began sending up gargantuan leaf buds that reached up to 12 feet high. The leaves soaked up energy from the sun and stored it underground in an organ called the corm. By fall 2015, the corm had gone from its dormant weight of 37 lbs. to a whopping 67 lbs., large enough to send up a new bloom, which will grow up to eight feet tall.

Corpse flowers are native only to Sumatra, Indonesia and are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, the most distinctive trait of this plant is not its size or global population, but its smell.

About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Learn more: phipps.conservatory.org.

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Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a great steel and glass Victorian greenhouse, has been inviting visitors to explore the beauty and mysteries of plants since 1893. Set amidst one of Pittsburgh's largest greenspaces, Schenley Park, Phipps Conservatory stands as a cultural and architectural centerpiece of the city's Oakland neighborhood.

In recent decades, Phipps has evolved into one of the region's most vibrant, thriving cultural attractions, bringing fresh perspectives and artists into our historic glasshouse environment. Phipps has also become a strong advocate for advanced green-building practices, sustainable gardening and a new environmental awareness.

Our Mission

To inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse.

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