Have you ever heard of a corpse flower? No? Don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either. But did you know there are several at the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, D.C.? This 88 inch tall flower has the notorious reputation of smelling like a dead body, and I had to admit…my curiosity was piqued. So in the name of all things good, I drug my family downtown one evening after work to get a whiff of this infamous plant.
Thankfully the Botanic Gardens extended their operating hours from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. for the next 2 nights, while the flower was in full bloom, giving visitors ample opportunity to get their whiff on.
We arrived at 9 p.m. and were shocked by what we saw…
Thousands of people waited in line to smell this flower that only bloomed once every 10 years. When in bloom, the putrid smell of rotting flesh only lasted 48 hours, which spoke to the long line.
The line wrapped completely around the 85,000 square foot building filled with 65,000 plant exhibits. But tonight it was all about one stinking flower!
With only 2 hours before the building closed, we jumped in the back of the line and waited, and waited…and waited…all in an effort to get a whiff of this local phenomenon.
Meanwhile, as we inched our way up near the entrance, we kept ourselves busy by pulling up the live cam feed and watching people’s reaction to the smelly flower.
At 10:59 p.m. (and just 7 people away from entering the building), two security guards came out. I think you already know what I’m going to say next, but I’ll spell it out anyway. They announced the building was closed for the evening.
We were tired, hangry (hungry & angry), and just 7 people away! You can’t even imagine the disappointment we felt! But at this point there was nothing else we could do but make arrangements to return first thing in the morning.
And guess what…no line. We walked right up to the stinking flower and took a big whiff of the worst body odor you could ever imagine. Actually, it was more like rotting, decayed, decomposed flesh! Needless to say, the corpse flower lived up to its name!
Will there be another blooming of the corpse flower this year? The jury is still out on that one…but if I hear anything, I’ll let you know. This is one stinkin’ flower you have to smell for yourself to believe!
If You Go: 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20001, National Mall. Phone: 202-225-8333. Website: www.usbg.gov. The conservatory is open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily, including all weekends and holidays. Admission to the U.S. Botanic Garden is free. There are a few parking spots in front of the Botanic Garden, however, metered parking is available a few blocks away.
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! August 10, 2017
Hey everyone, I just received an email from the U.S. Botanic Gardens in D.C. and guess what! For the first time in the history of the U.S. Botanic Garden, not just 1 but 3 corpse flowers are about to bloom! The Garden currently estimates peak bloom might happen between August 17th & 22nd. Once fully open, each bloom usually remains open for 24-48 hours and then quickly collapses.
Try to get down there if you can. But if you can’t make it, you can always track the blooms’ progress via live video at http://www.USBG.gov/CorpseFlower. And remember, if you go…go early to avoid long lines.
All the Best,
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Kimberly is the owner of Travel Kimestry. Her areas of expertise include The Bahamas, The Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe and ALL THINGS DISNEY. She’s passionate about working with families who enjoy traveling the world. She looks forward to working with YOU soon!