CHICAGO — Cover your noses! A corpse flower named Alice the Amorphophallus is blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and boy does it smell.
Alice can take about 10 years to reach the size needed to support a bloom. The Latin name, Amorphophallus titanum, translates to “huge deformed penis,” according to the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust.
After that first bloom, it can take another two or more years to bloom again. And when it does, it blooms for about 24 to 36 hours and smells pretty darn stinky.
Why does it smell so stinky? The Chicago Botanic Garden credits “a combination of dimethyl trisulfide, isovaleric acid, dimethyl disulfide, benzyl alcohol, indole, and trimethylamine.”
The plant is trying to lure carrion beetles and flesh flies (up to an acre away) that are attracted to the smell of decomposition. The insects bring pollen from other plants they’ve visited, thereby pollinating the corpse flower plant.
The scent is most powerful at night.
The garden will be open tonight until 2 a.m. local time for “peak” nighttime bloom viewing, and all day on Wednesday. Those who can’t make it to Chicago at the last minute can watch the flower live on YouTube.
The corpse flower at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory bloomed in July of 2013. It had lived at the garden since 2007.