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Hundreds Line Up in San Francisco to See 7-Foot Tall Corpse Flower That Smells 'Like a Porta Potty'

The California Academy of Sciences urged the community to “come catch a whiff!”

<p>AP Photo/Jeff Chiu</p> corpse flower in bloom

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

corpse flower in bloom

A corpse flower blooming in San Francisco is drawing in crowds anxious to smell the plant’s unique scent!

The California Academy of Sciences has named the rare plant Mirage, and the museum announced that they were excited to host their first-ever corpse flower bloom this week.

“It’s happening! Mirage, our corpse flower, is blooming,” the academy said in a tweet on Tuesday. Their post also contained a photo of the roughly seven-foot tall flower.

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Adding that biologist Tim Wong would be hosting a Q&A for interested persons that evening, the academy also noted that Mirage could be seen in-person at the Osher Rainforest starting at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

“Come catch a whiff!” the post concluded.

Corpse flowers, known scientifically as Amorphophallus titanum, get their name from the powerful stench they produce while in bloom — which is only for two to three days once every year or two, according to the United States Botanic Garden.

"It smells like rotten flesh and carrion, so you might get notes of all of those different things, people say garlic, sweaty feet, rotten flesh," Wong told San Francisco's ABC News 7 of the extraordinary plant and its extraordinary smell. "I actually kind of thought it smelled a little bit like a porta potty, like a collection of scents."

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He added that those wanting to witness the bloom may want to do so quickly.

<p>AP Photo/Jeff Chiu</p> Visitors line up to see a corpse flower in bloom

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Visitors line up to see a corpse flower in bloom

"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."

And Mirage is unique in many ways.

As of 2021, the USBG estimated that there were fewer than 1,000 individual corpse flowers remaining in the wild — making seeing one of these plants in person a remarkable experience.

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The San Diego Botanic Garden refers to a corpse flower bloom as “a rare and special event,” stating that “most plants require seven to ten years to produce their first blooms, and bloom only every four to five years thereafter.”

Wong called the timing of the bloom “very unusual” because the academy is at the end of their typical season.

<p>Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty</p> young corpse flower at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty

young corpse flower at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

"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,” the biologist said.

Their natural habitat includes the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and the bloom can reach heights of up to 8 feet.

Mirage was just a tiny flowering plant when it was presented as a gift to the California Academy of Sciences on behalf of the Conservatory of Flowers.

For those unable to attend the special show in San Francisco or see the corpse flower in its natural habitat, a live-stream of the academy’s exhibition can be viewed here.

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