Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood


His stench has faded and his bloom has closed, but Romero the Corpse Flower is still a sight to see. Don’t miss the chance to pay him a last visit – he won’t be around much longer!

One of the rarest, largest and most impressive bloom cycles in all of nature is unfolding at Phipps! Now on display in our Palm Court and nearly ready to burst is “Romero,” our magnificent corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum). A native of the Sumatran rainforests, this unusual plant is the largest un-branched flower cluster in the world and gets its name from the rotten smell it emits while blooming. 

Waiting for years behind-the-scenes under greenhouse glass, this amazing plant is ready for you to experience what makes it a national phenomenon. Come early and come often to watch the incredible speed at which this plant grows, a rate of anywhere from two – six inches in a single day.

Though the flowering, and the distinct stench that accompanies it, are expected to occur before the end of the month, predicting the exact date is next to impossible, as temperature, humidity and many other factors play major roles in the timing. Once the corpse flower blooms, Phipps will offer extended evening hours and celebratory activities. To make sure you’re among the first to know when it’s bloom time, and to receive progress updates along the way, become a fan of Phipps on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Fans of Romero are encouraged to share their photos on social media using hashtag #RomeroatPhipps and follow the plant on Twitter @RomeroatPhipps.

A Drop-Dead Deal

If you’re waiting for the corpse flower to bloom, don’t be caught dead without a Phipps membership. Join on site during the month of August and you’ll receive two additional months of membership for free. If you plan to see the corpse flower multiple times this month, your investment will quickly pay for itself — and you’ll be able to enjoy the fun exhibits and events Phipps has to offer all the way through October of 2014!

Meet Romero

• The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) is one of the rarest and largest flowers on Earth.

• It is famous for the odor it emits when blooming — a smell said to resemble rotting flesh.

• Phipps’ corpse flower is affectionately named “Romero” after celebrated filmmaker George A. Romero, whose 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead was filmed in the Pittsburgh region. 

• It was acquired by the Conservatory in 2010 and will be the first to ever bloom at Phipps.

• While exact bloom time is difficult to predict, Romero is expected to flower in late August.

• In the days leading up to this event, the bloom will grow two – six inches per day.

• Corpse flower blooms typically last 24 – 48 hours and emit their smell for about 12 hours.

• These plants only flower every six – 10 years, making their blooms precious to witness.


More Corpse Flower Facts

• The corpse flower is native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.

• Its western Pennsylvanian relatives include skunk cabbage and Jack in the pulpit. 

• The corpse flower is the largest un-branched inflorescence (flower cluster) in the world. 

• It has a center column (spadix) surrounded by a flesh-like sheath (spathe) and a frilled crimson edge. 

• The bloom, which typically grows to be six – eight feet tall, emerges from an underground tuber (corm).

• Corpse flower corms are the largest structures of the kind found in the plant kingdom and can weigh more than 150 pounds. 

• The spadix has both male and female flowers at its base which become fertile at different times in order to prevent self-pollination.

• After blooming, the corpse flower will collapse and rot. A leaf, which resembles a small tree, will then typically grow in its place. 

• The smell and colors of the corpse flower mimic rotting flesh to attract pollinators like flies and beetles.

• The odor is often most intense at night when the flower heats up to a temperature close to that of the human body. This process increases the reach of the plant’s scent.

• The substances responsible for the pungent smell are dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide. 

• Italian Odoardo Beccari was the first European botanist to encounter and describe the plant in 1878. 

• In 1889, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London displayed the first bloom produced by a young plant germinated from seed collected during Beccari’s expedition to Sumatra. 

• Corpse flowers are difficult to grow, requiring warm, humid greenhouse conditions to thrive.

• Naturally rare, corpse flowers are also threatened in the wild due to the effects of deforestation.

• Since corpse flowers bloom so infrequently, flowering events cause great excitement across the globe.

Other Featured Exhibits & Events

One More Night of Winter Lights
Friday, Jan. 30, 2015
5 – 11 p.m.
Take one more walk through the dazzling light displays in our Outdoor and Children’s Discovery Gardens while our indoor spaces transform for the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Tropical Sundays
Sundays, Feb 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2015
Wear a tropical shirt and receive 50 percent off admission to relax under the palm trees, sway to music of Matthew Mazza and Carmen Bruno of the Tropical Sands Steel Band, and taste tropical fruit.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Feb. 5, 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Tropical Forest Congo
Opens Feb. 7, 2015
The beauty of the tropics flourishes as we unveil Tropical Forest Congo, a new exhibit featuring some of Africa’s lushest landscapes. See varieties of flora never before showcased at Phipps and discover how indigenous tribes use plants to sustain and enrich their lives.
Tropical Forest Congo Opening Festival
Feb. 7, 2015
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Be among the first to see our new Tropical Forest Congo exhibit as our guest at a special opening celebration. Family-friendly activities include a storytelling performance, African-inspired food sampling, cultural crafts and a pot-a-plant station — all free with Phipps admission.
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Seed, Perennial and Seedling Swap: 2015 Garden Season Opener
Feb. 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main
Join Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland to swap seeds and plants, learn tips and get ready for a great season of gardening. Bring seeds you saved from last year and take home an exciting selection to grow in your garden this year. Admission is free to the public.
Garden Railroad
Closes March 1, 2015
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.