The Boston Red Sox may be in last place in the American League East, but take heart, Red Sox Nation, there will soon be something that stinks even more in Beantown: A giant corpse flower that could bloom any minute at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Known to botanists as the Amorphophallus titanum -- titan arum for short -- the corpse flower hails from the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is known for a terrible odor that, when in bloom, that has been compared to rotting flesh. The flower is also remarkable for its immense size, which can reach up to nine feet high and six feet wide at full bloom.
The plant is also unique in that it only blooms once every 7 to 10 years, and only for 48 hours at the most. But, oh, that smell is something that you don't forget, according to Harry A. Liggett, the zoo's manager of horticulture and grounds, who dealt with another corpse flower bloom earlier this year.
"It's pretty bad -- like rotting fish," Liggett told The Huffington Post.
Liggett had a hard time deciding whether the flower would stink worse than the Red Sox, mainly because he's from New York and a Yankees fan.
He added, with a laugh: "Uh, oh. You're going to get me in trouble."
Liggett said the first bloom was so bad, he avoided going near his girlfriend for a day or so until the smell disippated.
The plant's rancid smell and its color, which resembles a decaying corpse, are designed to attract the insects that help it propogate.
Not that it happens very often. The plant is endangered in the wild and Liggett estimates that there are only five to 10 blooms each year.
A a 2010 story on AOL Weird News estimated that the stinky flower has bloomed only 29 times in the U.S.
Part of that is because it only grows under very particular conditions, Liggett said.
"We keep it in a greenhouse heated to 82 degrees and use misters to get the humidity that high as well," Liggett said. "But doing that clogs up the intake on the heaters."
Normally, Liggett raises flowers like the giant corpse in a nursery not accessible to the public, but because it's impending bloom is considered a big deal, it is being placed in a special greenhouse for public viewing. Because no one can predict exactly when the flower will bloom, the zoo will be offering extra viewing hours in the evenings and mornings so visitors don't raise a stink about missing it.
Be careful what you wish for, though.CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the Boston Red Sox played in the National League East. They play in the American League East.