Visitors line up to see and smell a corpse flower’s stinking bloom in San Francisco

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. odor / ˈoʊ dər / (n.) – a particular smell, usually a bad one

    The unpleasant odor from the garbage bin makes everyone uncomfortable.

  2. sweaty / ˈswɛt i / (adj.) – wet and smelling like sweat

    Wearing closed shoes in the summer often results in uncomfortably sweaty feet.

  3. carcass / ˈkɑr kəs / (n.) – the body of a dead animal

    We found our dog smelling a deer carcass in the backyard.

  4. whiff / wɪf / (n.) – a quick and light smell

    People passing by the bakery catch a whiff of the newly baked cookies.

  5. full-on / ˌfʊlˈɒn / (adj.) – extreme or to the greatest degree

    After a whole day of practice under the sun, the team felt full-on tired.


Read the text below.

Crowds lined up in San Francisco to see—and smell—the blooming of an endangered tropical flower that releases a pungent odor when it opens once every several years.

An Amorphophallus titanum, also known as a corpse flower, began blooming at the California Academy of Sciences, a research institution and museum. The plant blooms for one to three days once every seven to 10 years. During the bloom, it releases a powerful smell described by some as rotting food or sweaty socks.

“It’s kind of imitating the smell of kind of a dead carcass to kind of get all the flies to come and interact with it, pick up pollen, and then take that pollen to another flower that it might investigate due to its smell,” said Lauren Greig, a horticulturist, California Academy of Sciences.

It was the first bloom for the corpse flower named Mirage, which was donated to the California Academy of Sciences in 2017. It’s been housed in the museum’s rainforest exhibit since 2020.

Bri Lister, a data scientist who lives in San Francisco, moved some meetings and waited in line for about an hour to catch a whiff of the plant.

“In certain directions, I definitely picked up on the sweaty socks, sweaty gym clothes, but probably luckily not full-on rotting meat, but definitely a smellier plant than average,” Lister said.

Monica Becker took her child out of school to see the flower in person after watching it on the academy’s livestream. “When we heard it bloomed, we were like, we got it, we got to go, first thing in the morning when they open. So here we are,” Becker said.

The Amorphophallus titanum is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only less than 1,000 individual plants left in the wild.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • If you could choose a rare or endangered local species to bloom and thrive in your city/country, what would it be? Why? Discuss.
  • If you could display a special plant or animal from another part of the world in your local garden or museum, what would it be? Why? How do you think this would interest and inspire people in your community? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • In your opinion, is it okay to take time off work or school to witness a rare natural event like the blooming of a flower? Why or why not? Given the chance, would you do the same? Discuss.
  • What unique event or occasion do you think would be worth taking time off work or school to experience? Why? Discuss.