The Chicago Botanic Garden of Glencoe is home to one of the oddest attraction across the U.S.: the corpse flower.
No, it’s not a make-over of some Tim Burton imagined plant, this rare rainforest inhabitant being scientifically known as the Titan Arum. However, it is a very specific and intriguing plant. As you might have guessed, the corpse flower emits a smell similar to that of a corpse. Why the slightly repugnant smell and the corpse flower are such a hit with visitors is still a mystery.
What is certain is thousands crowd to smell the odd rainforest plant and snap a photo with the attraction of the Chicago Botanic Garden. And the same happened on Sunday, when the pungent odor releasing plant failed to open for the visitors to admire it in full bloom.
So, the corpse flower got a little helping hand from the scientists working with the botanic garden in Glencoe.
Spike, as the Titan Arum is known among its keepers, has been keeping scientists wondering for almost a week…will it bloom, will it not? After the first signs that it would like to burst open, the rainforest plant did not harness sufficient force to be opening by itself and let all those visitors who cued for 45 minutes to see it.
Yet Spike was helped by the scientific team to reveal its pungent odor releasing flower and its purple leaves to the waiting crowd.
Patrick Herendeen, conservation scientists with the Chicago Botanic Garden told the crowd as the team was preparing to open it:
“…it’s really quite splendid. They’re amazing plants. Their flowers are amazing and their odor is amazing. However, this is not unprecedented. It just didn’t perform as expected. But that’s just like our garden plants at home.”
Among reassurances that Spike will certainly bloom again by itself, the team peeled away the layers of the corpse flower’s base, leaving it to open more easily. The rainforest plant is really a wonder. In its natural habitat, in the Sumatran rainforests, it is a rare sight…or smell. One that is unforgettable.
According to the scientists, there are only about 1 plants for each 100 acres in their native habitat, which makes it a precious plant. All the more precious, considering that blooming rarely happens, even in the wild, but when it does, the strong smell released by the corpse flower is attracting a great number of pollinators.
The process begins a couple of hours before the Titan Arum seems to burst open, when the increasingly strong smell is being felt. The peak is reached when the flower is fully open in the midnight and decreases slowly throughout the 24 hours.
Short-lived, the curious and rare corpse flower then closes and prepares for a future blooming. Spike has been with the Chicago Botanic Garden for 12 years now. Yet, it has only become popular for the visitors as it was exhibited closer to its blooming.
Since August, 50,000 visitors have seen the plant and another 360,000 have visited Spike’s webpage.
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