Newly bloomed orchid 'smells like dead rats and rotting fish'

The Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis, collected from Papua New Guinea, has been described as a 'total stinker'.

Flower in bloom at Cambridge University smells like ‘dead rats decomposing next to rotting fish’ University of Cambridge via Supplied

A university garden has welcomed visitors looking to catch a glimpse of a newly bloomed orchid which smells like “dead rats decomposing next to rotting fish”.

The Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis, collected from Papua New Guinea, can be found at the Central Tropics Glasshouse at Cambridge University.

Described as a “total stinker”, the university garden said visitors will know they are close when they start to smell “the delicate aroma of rotting cabbages”.

The university gardens said the plant flowers every three to four years and is very rare to see it outside its natural habitat.

The flower smells of 'rotting cabbages'.

Inviting visitors to sample the foul flower, the garden posted on Facebook: “We have a special gift to you all this half-term – and just ahead of Halloween too – and it is a total stinker.

“It’s the orchid Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis. You can find it in the Central Tropics Glasshouse, hanging by the spiral staircase…and you’ll know you’re getting close when you start to smell the delicate aroma of rotting cabbages.

“The odour has also been described as smelling like ‘dead rats decomposing next to rotting fish’.

“To the carrion flies and beetles that pollinate it in the wild, it smells amazing.”

“This special orchid was wild collected from Papua New Guinea and it’s very rare to see it in flower outside its natural habitat. It’s flowering for us thanks to the TLC of our orchid expert & volunteer, Phil (seen here) who has been telling us about what he calls its ‘malodorous fascination’.

“The Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis is an epiphyte – a plant that grows on another plant but gets its own nutrients from the surrounding air and rainwater.

“Fans of our mega-pongy titan arum will not be disappointed by this smaller resident. Our Glasshouse Team think it will reach its ponging peak any time soon.”