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“Uncle Fester” corpse flower now in full and fetid bloom at Bloedel Conservatory

July 16 2018

“The Vancouver Park Board was very fortunate to have acquired this rare plant a few years ago,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “We’re even luckier to see one of nature’s strangest spectacles."

Corpse flower

A putrid spectacle is now underway at Bloedel Conservatory where the Park Board’s rare titan arum or corpse flower is now in full bloom. The plant was dubbed “Uncle Fester” by Vancouverites in an online naming contest.

The corpse flower is notorious for smelling like a rotting carcass during its brief, 48-hour blooming period. Not for the faint of heart (or nose) the stench has variously been described as smelling like limburger cheese, rotting fish, sweaty socks, and feces.

One of nature's strangest spectacles

“The Vancouver Park Board was very fortunate to have acquired this rare plant a few years ago,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “We’re even luckier to see one of nature’s strangest spectacles. I encourage everyone who can to stop by Bloedel Conservatory and have a whiff of Uncle Fester.”
 
The Park Board acquired the corpse flower in 2016 from a North Carolina nursery. In the last few weeks it had a tremendous growth spurt and now stands almost six feet tall. It unfurled into a stinky, flesh-coloured bloom Sunday evening.

Uncle Fester now fills Bloedel Conservatory with the rancid odour it uses to attract pollinators such as carrion beetles and flesh flies. The public doesn’t need to worry about encountering these insects at the tropical Bloedel Conservatory.

Extended opening hours at Bloedel

Bloedel Conservatory is extending its hours to 7am – 11pm for the two day blooming period to allow as many visitors as possible to experience the unmistakable odor.

Regular admission rates apply and be prepared for long line-ups at the Conservatory.

About the plant

Corpse flowers are very rare and unpredictable and generally need seven to ten years to store enough energy to bloom for the first time. Uncle Fester is six-years-old and this, its first bloom, is expected to last just 24 to 48 hours. Some plants may not bloom again for another decade, while others might bloom every two to three years.

The titan arum is native to the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia and is classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened plants.
 
Vancouver is one of only a handful of North American cities to possess a corpse flower and this is the first time one has bloomed in BC. Earlier this year, a corpse flower dubbed “Gagnes” bloomed at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. 

Learn more about the corpse flower