Essential Pittsburgh
2:32 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

An Update on the Blooming Corpse Flower

Spectators flocked to the Phipps Conservatory this week.
Spectators flocked to the Phipps Conservatory this week.
Credit Casey Premoshis / The Allegheny Front

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has been swarming with visitors over the last few days. And thankfully, not flies.

The rare and odoriferous corpse flower has been in bloom for the last 48 hours.  Casey Premoshis visited the giant plant named "Romero" for the Allegheny Front and WESA:

“We were open ‘til 2 a.m. and I can tell you, we had to basically ask people to leave at 2 a.m.,” said Phipps horticulturist Ben Dunigan. “We were still getting people right up until the time we closed.”

Dunigan has taken care of Romero from the time the plant arrived as a tuber — a round bulb from which the corpse flower grew. The conservatory named the plant Romero after Pittsburgh filmmaker George Romero, the man behind the 1968 cult zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead," which was being screened twice Wednesday night at Phipps.

“We’ve had a great response,” Dunigan said. “There was a line all the way out to the road this morning when we opened.”

The plant blooms only every six to 10 years and, even then, it last only one to two days. During the first 15 hours of blooming, a corpse flower releases a smell that’s similar to rotting flesh, hence its name. But onlookers often have some different ways of describing it. The smell is most pungent in the evening, and by early afternoon on Wednesday, it smelled something like decaying fish at an oceanside.