‘They’re coming to sniff you, Barbara!’ A corpse flower at Phipps is getting ready to bloom … and stink

Barbara isn’t expected to be as stinky as Phipps’ other corpse flower, Romero.

Barbara the corpse flower

Barbara the corpse flower

Courtesy of Phipps
Sarah Anne Hughes

Perhaps you remember Romero, a corpse flower at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens that last unleashed its stink in summer 2016?

If you missed your chance to take a whiff of that rotting flesh odor and think it’s something you’d want to smell, you’re in luck. Phipps is preparing for its other corpse flower, Barbara, to bloom.

“Barbara is not expected to grow as large or emit as strong a scent as Romero, but the bloom, which will be announced on our social media and email newsletter and last for only 12 to 48 hours, will still present a sight — and smell — to behold,” the Phipps teased on Facebook.

Romero, who is currently dormant, was named in honor of “Night of the Living Dead” director George for reasons that should be obvious. Barbara is named for that film’s leading character, who is told by her brother “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” — except in this Barbara’s case “They’re coming to sniff you!”

When will you get to do that?

Phipps wrote this morning on Facebook, “One of her bracts has begun to peel, and we think a bloom is just a few days away. As a native of Sumatra, she’s appreciated the warmer weather we’ve enjoyed in Pittsburgh the last few days!”

Jennifer Davit, curator of horticulture, told The Incline corpse flowers can bloom every seven to ten years in the wild. Cultivated corpse flowers can bloom “every few years,” she said. Genetics and age can play a role in the size of a corpse flower, Davit said, adding that she doesn’t have original information on Barbara’s seed but suspects Barbara is younger than Romero. Phipps acquired Barbara from Pitt in 2012, and she’s bloomed before.

Davit said it’s “very difficult to tell” when a corpse flower will bloom, but she expects Barbara will within a week. That could be as soon as two days to as long as a week, so Davit recommended checking Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Barbara is currently housed in the Serpentine Room, where there’s also an exhibit from glass artist Jason Gamrath called SUPER. NATURAL. She’s also making some killer puns on Twitter.