WATCH: Rare corpse flower blooms at Tucson Botanical Gardens

Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 9:23 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 24, 2018 at 6:01 AM MST
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(Source: Tucson Botanical Gardens)
(Source: Tucson Botanical Gardens)

TUCSON, AZ - For the first time in its history, Tucson Botanical Gardens has a blooming corpse flower.

The corpse flower, which gets its name from the "rotting flesh" odor it emits, is extremely rare and unpredictable. It opened its pungent petals on Monday, April 23.

"Corpse flowers are considered rare in the world of botanic gardens," said Michelle Conklin, executive director of TBG. "There have been about 100 recorded cultivated corpse flowers around the world. The first recorded flowering in the United States was at the New York Botanical Gardens in 1937."

The plants can take up to a decade to bloom for the first time and the bloom only lasts for 24-48 hours.

According to a YurView blog, the TBG's corpse flower is called Rosie and she's being housed in the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion exhibit.

Below is a Sunday afternoon update from the blog.

In addition to all the visitors we've had over the past week, we've had phone calls worldwide from Rosie fans watching online. We've had phone calls from people as far away as Australia that have been watching the livestream. And people are watching around the clock. A few days ago, we had an owl butterfly that was jealous with all the attention Rosie's been getting and decided to land on the camera during the early morning hours. During that time, we were left numerous messages asking us to move the butterfly. That's the beauty of live online viewing!

A quick Rosie update: Not much else to report other than she's doing just fine. We were hoping to experience a bloom on Earth Day (and we still may), but she certainly has her own agenda and will bloom when she's ready.

The plant can grow over 10-feet tall and is the largest flowering structure in the world.

Michael Madsen, the TBG butterfly exhibit manager, said Rosie was a gift from UC Fullerton and Edward Read.

"We believe Rosie is 9 years old," Madsen said. "This is her first time to flower."

Madsen said Rosie is blooming earlier than expected.

"We were not expecting Rosie to bloom for another two years," he said. "It will be a smaller bloom than the one at Chicago. When Rosie blooms she will receive pollen from Sumatra & Sunshine From the Chicago Botanic Garden."

According to Madsen, Rosie will eventually produce small reddish fruit.

Once the fruit ripen, workers will take the seeds and attempt to grow smaller corpse flowers or share seeds with other gardens.

If you can't get to the TBG, you can watch the bloom live below.

  • Rare corpse flower set to bloom in Tucson.
  • $15 General admission, $13 Students, Senior & Military, $8 Children (4-17); Free for Members, Children 3 and under
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way
  • The flower can bloom at any time, but TBG will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day.
  • There will be a members-only viewing from 7-8:30 a.m. each day

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