Visitors from near and far flock to greenhouse to see and smell rare plant
More than 300 visitors of all ages came to the Wheaton College Greenhouse on Saturday, July 22, and Sunday, July 23, to see and smell the rare corpse flower (amorphophallus titanum). The plant, known for smelling like decaying flesh once it blooms, can take seven to eight years to bloom and then quickly dies in a few hours, according to Wheaton horticulturist Ben Robbins. The college has three corpse flower plants. This particular one arrived in the greenhouse in 2017, and this weekend was the first time it had bloomed. Visitors had various reactions to the fishy, garbage-like smell—from holding T-shirts over their noses to mask the aroma, which was detectable in the elevator that leads to the fourth floor greenhouse, to expressing a desire for the plant to smell worse. “It doesn’t smell as bad as the dead fox under our garage,” one woman commented. Another visitor brought a plastic container with a lid to try to capture the smell to share later with her friends. “This was a rare, short-lived event and a first for the college. I was happy to see so many people excited about seeing the corpse flower. Hopefully, we will have another one bloom in a year or two,” Robbins said. Watch a timelapse of the blooming. Read about some of the media coverage.