1st-ever corpse flower bloom at SF's CA Academy of Sciences underway: How some describe the smell

Sweaty feet? Rotten flesh? Garlic? Those are just some of the ways people are describing the smell

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
1st-ever corpse flower bloom at SF's CA Academy of Sciences
Biologists at the California Academy of Sciences are celebrating taking a whiff at their first-ever corpse flower bloom with Mirage in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Biologists at the California Academy of Sciences are celebrating their first-ever corpse flower bloom in San Francisco.

Stacking up to nearly seven feet at its peak, nestled into what's known as the Osher Rainforest, after five years of quietly growing and storing energy underground, the corpse flower known as "Mirage" stole some thunder from its talkative parrot neighbors, and finally started blooming Tuesday afternoon.

"The opportunity to see one of these in bloom is so ephemeral, the blooms last about one day so you really have a short window of time to come see the flower open," Tim Wong, a Senior Biologist at the California Academy of Sciences said.

And while its beauty is captivating a crowd willing to wait hours, make no mistake, this flower smells like rotting flesh.

MORE: Here's how to watch rare 'Scarlet' the corpse flower at SF Conservatory before it wilts away

"It smells like rotten flesh and carryon so you might get notes of all of those different things, people say garlic, sweaty feet, rotten flesh," Wong said. "I actually kind of thought it smelled a little bit like a porta potty, like a collection of scents."

This is the first time a corpse flower has ever bloomed at the California Academy of Sciences, after this flower was originally gifted from their neighbor, the Conservatory of Flowers as just a young plant.

Wong says it's unique because this is the largest unbranched flower structure of its kind and these flowers will typically bloom in the summer time in North America, but this one decided to happen a little early in February.

"We're very much at the early end of what's the typical season for this plant, another thing that makes it very unusual for us and the first," Wong said. "If you can take off work, come check out the flower, I would definitely recommend it if you can, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people."

MORE: 3 things you never knew about the 'corpse flower' blooming at SF's Conservatory of Flowers

Want to know more about the stinky "corpse flower?" Here's some knowledge for you from San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Director Matthew Stephens.

The bloom can typically last for up to three days, although the museum says it's already at its peak on Wednesday.

Wong says he believes it will go through another two to three leaf cycles before producing another bloom expected to happen in as little as two to three years.

You can watch the museum's live stream of the flower here.

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