Photo by Joe Reed.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Through June
9:30 a.m. — midnight

Romero is blooming! One of the rarest and largest flowers on Earth which emits an overwhelming scent of rotting flesh and is named in honor of the pioneering Pittsburgh-based filmmaker George Romero, burst into bloom late Wednesday afternoon.

If you missed the stinky spectacle (cue Lynyrd Skynyrd song) when it wowed some 12,000 botany buffs in just two days back in 2013, then you must make a beeline for Phipps to witness this miraculous bloom.

Photo by Paul g. Wiegman.
Photo by Paul g. Wiegman.

The legendary corpse flower (aka Amorphophallus titanium) has truly got to bee seen—and smelled—to be believed. Native to Sumatra, Indonesia, the world’s largest un-branched flower is also listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. As it makes its odiferous and triumphant return inside Phipps’ Palm Court, the sculptural plant is growing rapidly—up to six inches per day.

As it makes its odiferous and triumphant return inside Phipps’ Palm Court, the sculptural plant is growing rapidly—up to six inches per day.

Living up to its name, the corpse flower gives off a staggering whiff of rotting flesh in order to attract the beetles and flies that pollinate it. Here’s the catch: the signature stench only lasts during the brief 12 to 48 hours that the flower is open. To further give the appearance of meat, the insides of the bloom are blood red, and after it blooms, the masterful flower heats up to about 100 degrees in order to increase the potency of its scent.

Courtesy of Phipps.
Courtesy of Phipps.

It seems only appropriate then that this other-worldly plant’s namesake is the iconic underground filmmaker George A. Romero, whose 1968 cult classic was filmed in and around Pittsburgh and who paved the way for zombie genre generations to come.

To further celebrate Romero’s rare rise, Phipps is offering late-night visitation hours until midnight, limited-edition corpse flower merchandise, and a special “Drop Dead Deal” membership package. The Oakland destination is now open until midnight every night, with the last tickets sold at 11 p.m.

Be sure to follow up-to-the-minute bloom time updates and extended visitation hours on Phipps’ website and Facebook page. This natural wonder even has its own Twitter page: @RomeroatPhipps. Corpse flower fans can also watch a live feed and track the plant’s height via Phipps’ Romer-O-Meter.

Wondering what substances create Romero’s powerful stench? It’s a combination of dimethyl trisulfide (found in Limburger cheese), dimethyl disulfide (found in rotting fish), timethylamine, isovaleric acid (found in sweaty socks) and indole (found in human feces), benzyl alcohol and phenol.

Looking for more events? Read our NEXTravaganza! 20 can’t-miss Pittsburgh events & concerts in June and our Top 10 things for families to do in June in Pittsburgh features.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.