That’s according to a news release from Dartmouth College officials, who say that Morphy the 15-year-old corpse flower is expected to bloom for a three-day period sometime next week (that would be the week of Oct. 28).
It’s all going down at the Life Sciences Greenhouse on campus.
Of course, nobody knows the exact dates … except for Morphy! Whenever it happens, the greenhouse will post extended hours.
Morphy last bloomed two years ago, topping out at 7 feet, 6 inches and drawing 5,000 visitors. And although corpse flowers typically bloom only every seven or eight years, it seems that Morphy is bucking expectations and ready to party.
Why is Morphy blooming again so soon?
Kim DeLong, Dartmouth’s greenhouse manager, said this in an email:
It’s somewhat rare for a corpse flower to bloom so soon. But as a corpse flower corm matures, it’s more likely that it’ll bloom sooner in the life cycle. Uncertain on why. But when we repotted the corm in June, it was between 80-90 pounds, so both Terry (Barry), our greenhouse assistant, and I thought it might bloom again. All that energy in the corm needs to be expended on a flower.
Here’s what it looked like when Morphy started to bloom in September 2016, thanks to Valley News photographer James M. Patterson.
And here’s a photo of Morphy in full bloom, alongside Terry Barry, of the Dartmouth Life Sciences Greenhouse staff, later that month:
Plus, a close-up of the tiny flowers inside Morphy at that time:
Last but not least, here’s a time lapse video showing the whole bloom in September 2016, courtesy of Dartmouth College:
What all these visuals can’t do for you, though, is get across a sense of smell — which is one of Morphy’s main attractions, although the smell is not great.
For that description and more, we turn to wordsmith Nicola Smith, who wrote a piece headlined “Fragrance of the Dead” for the Valley News in 2016. It reads, in part:
In a world of packaged, homogenized, digitalized, photo-shopped, prettified, Snapchatted and Instagrammed experiences, a corpse flower in full blossom, or stench, is as unmediated and rare an experience as you can get.
Which is probably why hundreds of visitors a day are flocking to the Life Sciences Greenhouse at Dartmouth College to stare at Morphy the corpse flower, which began to bloom Friday afternoon. When it is fully open, it releases a scent that has been likened to rotting meat, decomposing flesh, urine and excrement — take your pick.
But, does the corpse flower smell like its name?
Worse, actually, said Kim DeLong, the greenhouse manager and curator. Before DeLong took the job at Dartmouth, she worked as a greenhouse manager at the University of California, Berkeley. As part of her studies, DeLong has been around cadavers; so she knows the difference between the smell of real corpses, and botanical imitators.
At a little more than 7 feet tall, Morphy is a prime, 13-year-old specimen of Titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, which, said DeLong, translates roughly as “giant misshapen penis.”
So, there’s that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DeLong, the greenhouse manager, also said:
I really hope that people who missed Morphy’s bloom two years ago will get to see it this time. When Morphy bloomed in 2016, I was surprised by how much the odor shifted. At first, it smelled like a dead rat in your wall and then towards morning, it smelled more like dirty baby diapers. Given that the female flowers become fertile first, my guess is that the smell shifts as the male flowers become fertile, all of which may help attract different pollinators.
Good luck Morphy! Hope to see you blooming around Halloween. In the meantime, here’s other ways to check in:
- Track Morphy’s status on the Dartmouth Greenhouse Facebook page.
- Here’s a livestream of what Morphy looks like at this very moment.
RELATED: Fragrance of the Dead