Horrific Corpse Flower Blooming at the Nashville Zoo

Spooky season is in full swing and with Halloween just around the corner even Mother Nature is getting in on the celebrations, as it were, at the Nashville Zoo. The zoo is currently experiencing the rare bloom of one of the world's largest plants, the Amorphophallus titanum -- a plant perhaps best known as the corpse flower. The flower, which was donated to the zoo by Vanderbilt University, is now in full bloom at the zoo complete with its rather unusual odor that is similar to that of rotting flesh.

The corpse flower, which is on display inside the zoo's aviary located in the Unseen New World, is native to Sumatra and blooms are pretty rare for the gigantic flower which can grow more than ten feet in height. The flower bloom takes place once every eight to ten years, lasting only a few days. This specific corpse flower has been growing since 2012 where it started as a seed at Vanderbilt before being donated to the zoo when the university closed their greenhouses. Retired Vanderbilt Greenhouse Operator Jonathan Ertelt told WKRN that the plant grows just a single leaf each year.

"With the leaf going straight up 10-feet in the air and then branching out to a large compound leaf," Ertelt said. “After eight years, it's flowering for the first time. It's gotten enough energy into the tuber, so what was initially the size of a golf ball, now looks like a large misshapen basketball. It is somewhere between 30-40 pounds."

As for the plant's main attraction -- its scent -- Ertelt said it's a smell that can be different to different people, though none of them sound especially pleasant.

"It generally is 'odorific' and not in a pleasant way. There's a combination of limburger cheese and garbage, rotting fish, and old gym socks and those things have specifically chemical compounds that make up the majority of that particular fragrance," he said. "So that's why all those things are on the list."

And the zoo's corpse flower may not be the only one in Tennessee. Ertelt things there are currently seven in the state.

"I dispersed several and kept several of them in the state," he said.


For those wanting to see the corpse flower without going to the zoo in person, you can check out live footage of it online here.

What do you think about the corpse flower? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.