Discover the ‘Corpse Flower’ — The Worst Smelling Flower in the World

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: August 22, 2023
© Wanto Hutasoit
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When you think of flowers, you might recall special occasions, a favorite garden, or a favorite scent. If you haven’t heard of the corpse flower, you should know it’s not a pleasant olfactory experience. It’s an interesting plant, nevertheless, piquing the attention of botanists and nature enthusiasts who are curious to understand and experience this enigmatic, strikingly beautiful yet human-repelling flower.

What is the ‘Corpse Flower?’

The corpse flower, formally known as titan arum and scientifically known as Amorphophallus titanium is a very stinky, flowering plant. Whereas some flowers give off a pleasant fragrance when they bloom, the corpse flower does the exact opposite. It’s offensive about it too. At first glance, the enormity and coloration of the corpse flower draw you forward but it releases the stench of death and rotting flesh.

titan arum in bloom
The titan arum is also known as the ‘corpse flower’ because of its smell.


Where Does the ‘Corpse Flower’ Grow?

According to the United States Botanic Garden, there are barely about 1,000 of these unusual-looking and foul-smelling plants. They are native to Indonesia but started blooming outside of this region in 1889. Although titan arum both fascinates and disgusts humans, its colors, temperature, and stomach-turning odor serve a purpose.

All of these aspects work together to attract pollinators. You might wonder what type of pollinators are attracted to the corpse flower. Pollinators include carnivorous insects like flesh flies along with dung beetles. Since these pollinators are naturally drawn to dark, smelly, rotting smells, the corpse flower is perfect for them.

As this video starts, the narrator wastes no time letting you know you’d probably lose your lunch if you were there with him as he filmed because of the corpse flower’s nauseating scent. He mentions in the caption that he was lucky enough to witness this enigmatic flower at a local botanical garden but that he didn’t feel nearly as lucky for having had to smell it.

He explains that it only blooms once every seven to 10 years and when it does, it releases the stench it’s notorious for. In the background, the song “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd aptly plays, with lyrics that include “that smell, can’t you smell that smell, the smell of death surrounds you.”

Titan arum, known as the 'corpse flower'
The ‘corpse flower’ only blooms once every seven to 10 years.

©Phillip B. Espinasse/

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The Featured Image

two titan arums growing in wild
The record-holding titan arum is roughly 20 feet tall.
© Wanto Hutasoit

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a quirky cat mom with a love for books, thunderstorms, and comfy couches where she cozies up with her laptop to write her heart out. Her writing style combines engaging storytelling, vivid imagery, emotional resonance, and educational depth to create a compelling and informative reading experience for readers like you! Her passion and humor stamp her work with a voice all her own and her sense of wonder creates a fantastical narrative that allows you to explore the fascinating world of wildlife through new eyes.

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