Cincinnati Zoo’s Rare Corpse Flower Will Bloom Soon

This flower only blooms once every five to ten years.

The corpse flower's last blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2015. - Screen Shot: youtube.com/chicagobotanicgarden
Screen Shot: youtube.com/chicagobotanicgarden
The corpse flower's last blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2015.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens currently has an even worse smell than it usually does (looking at you elephants). That smell signifies an incredibly rare occurrence, the imminent blooming of a corpse flower.

Zoo officials say in a release that they received this unique flower three years ago from the Chicago Botanic Garden. Since then, the zoo’s horticulture team has been watching the flower for signs it is ready to undergo its bloom which only happens every five to ten years. This scent is all they need to know it’s happening soon.

“We’ve all heard how bad the smell is, but it’s just one of those things that you want to experience in order to describe it in your own words,” Cincinnati Zoo horticulturist Jerome Stenger said in a release. “And the fact that the occurrence is so rare, sometimes just blooming once in a decade, makes everyone want to see it.”

The zoo says its fans on social media have decided to name the plant Morticia. Morticia is located in the zoo’s educational building, where the stink (which the zoo says is “bearable") and the bloom will only last for 24-36 hours.

The flower will bloom for a short period of time and then will collapse after pollination is complete. The last time this plant bloomed was in September of 2015 at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

“The odor, color, and temperature, which can rise to 98 degrees, of the flower are meant to attract pollinators that are attracted to dead animals,” said Stenger. “Since the Discovery Forest greenhouse isn’t crawling with dung beetles and flesh flies, we are trying to get our hands on some pollen so we can help Morticia pollinate!”

The corpse flower, which can grow up to 15 feet tall and have leaves 13 feet wide, will be available to view during regular zoo hours at the zoo’s Discovery Forest. Seeing Morticia is free with admission.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. Find more information at cincinnatizoo.org.

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