The blooming process of the corpse flower is a rare sight. Mysteriously, multiple flowers located hundreds of miles apart are blooming at the same time across the United States. Botanists are baffled by the anomaly and people from several states have flocked to their local botanical garden to witness this once-in-a-lifetime bloom.
The corpse flower, technically called the titan arum, is one of the largest flowers in the world. According to Science Alert, they can grow up to six feet tall. It takes a lot of energy out of the plant to bloom, which is why it so rarely happens. But once it does, anyone nearby is in for a smelly treat.
The flower’s nickname comes from its powerful stench which people liken to rotting flesh, the purpose of which is to attract pollinators. The corpse flower is native to western Sumatra and has only been witnessed blooming 157 times between 1889 and 2008.
Several of these flowers have bloomed in the United States, all within a couple months of one another. Among the states with synchronized blooms are Illinois, Colorado, Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., Missouri and Indiana.
One single flower only blooms once every six to seven years, according to Botanical Garden at the University of California at Berkley. The bloom doesn’t last long, either. The flower only blooms from the stalk for a couple of days at the most before the stem collapses. Then, the seven-year cycle starts all over again.
Botanists are still trying to figure out the anomaly, but they have their theories. Some theorize that the flowers are genetically related due to greenhouses and gardens sharing seeds. Others have a simpler answer — the flower’s growing popularity. As Atlas Obscura puts it, “another hypothesis is that corpse flowers are more popular now than ever among botanical gardens in the US, so more are blooming because, well, there are simply more of them.”
If there’s a corpse flower blooming near you, make sure you take the chance to go see it firsthand! If you can’t, though, you can still watch a live stream of the St. Louis, Mo. flower in action.