Rare and stinky Corpse Flower about to bloom at Milwaukee's Mitchell Park Domes

Blooming only once every eight years, the flower releases a foul odor that people describe as rotting flesh.
Corpse Flower
Posted at 10:33 AM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 11:33:49-04

MILWAUKEE — A stinky plant is about to bloom at the Mitchell Park Domes!

The Corpse Flower is back at the Domes and it has a fitting nickname: "Musky."

When the flower blooms, it releases a smell that some describe as rotting flesh or dead animals.

While the Domes are usually closed on Tuesdays, they opened specifically for the flower expected to bloom soon. Once it does, the scent only lasts 36-48 hours before the petals fall off and the flower dies.

“It wreaks of road kill and dead flesh basically,” Mary Braunreiter said. “It’s like the time you took that mouse out of the mouse trap in your basement.”

Braunreiter, a horticulturist at the Domes, said the flower only blooms every eight years. The plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, and is now endangered.

Known as Amorphophallus titanum, the 5 1/2-foot flower sits inside the tropical dome.

The strong odor helps the plant attract flies and beetles, so they can pollinate the female parts of the plant and reproduce.

“You might want to cover your nose so you don’t have to smell it,” Logan Dasada, another visitor, joked.

Dozens of people from all over the city, and even the country, came to the Domes Tuesday to try to catch it in bloom.

“I’m glad it hasn’t bloomed yet because I don’t want to smell it,” Tom Van Too, a visitor, smiled.

If you miss your chance to get a whiff of the smelly flower this year, the Domes has 11 Corpse Plants and believe more should bloom in the coming years.

The Domes are open to guests at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Get more information on their website.