A park in Michigan waited 18 years for a rare plant known as a “corpse flower” to bloom in its gardens.
And by Thursday, the flower that many say reeks of death — in a sense — came to life.
“As a professional horticulturist, this is incredibly exciting,” Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, said in a statement. “Many people go through their entire careers never seeing an example like this in person. We are thrilled that something that we started as a seedling here at Meijer Gardens 18 years ago is coming to fruition and that the public is showing such great interest.”
LaWarre estimated that “thousands” visited the park when the blooming corpse flower was at its peak Thursday, The Detroit News reported.
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The plant, also called by its scientific name an “Amorphophallus titanum,” was named “Putricia” by the park staff for its “nauseating smell,” according to a news release.
A local television station even asked a longtime medical examiner his opinion on the corpse flower’s stench.
During his visit to the park Thursday, Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle compared the smell to a body that’s “been in a hot apartment for about two weeks,” according to WZZM.
Its odor attracts carrion beetles and flies, the park said, and can grow “up to 12 feet tall in his natural habitat and about six to eight feet tall in cultivation.”
The park left out a marker board earlier this week and asked visitors to come up with their own descriptions of the flower’s smell.
“My patient’s necrotic foot from yesterday,” one person put.
“A trash can,” another said.
“My dreams and aspirations,” someone else wrote.
Other answers included “zombie,” “rotten meat,” “fish” and a variation of bad-smelling breath from either a relative or a family pet.
By Saturday, the park said on Facebook that the plant has closed up and the odor is gone, but added that people can still see the plant up close through the weekend.
It said it’s hard to say when exactly its corpse flower will bloom again but these plants on average bloom every four to six years after the corm — described as “an underground structure of the plant” — grows large enough for another flower.
Elsewhere in the country, another smelly corpse flower is getting ready to bloom.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers announced Friday that its corpse flower, named “Suma the Titan,” was opening up, and it’s following the plant’s progress with a live stream.