From: chazmg1 at citlink.net (Charles Gramling) on 2008.04.05 at 15:29:18(17294)|
Como Park readies for corpse flower's pungent bloom This flower by any other
name would still - stink
20other%20name%20would%20still%20%26#8212; stink> By Jason Hoppin
jhoppin at pioneerpress.com
Article Last Updated: 04/05/2008 12:55:37 AM CDT
Spectators at Como Park's Marjorie McNeely Conservatory on Friday examine a
placard explaining the life cycle of Titus Arum, also known as the corpse
flower or carrion flower. (Jason Hoppin, Pioneer Press)
The smell of death is looming.
A rare corpse flower bloom is anticipated next week at Como Park's Marjorie
McNeely Conservatory. It would be the second in Minnesota history and one of
about 125 recorded worldwide since the flower was discovered in the
rainforests of Indonesia in the 1870s.
The flower is named after the smell it emits, likened to rotting flesh.
Cultivated in a greenhouse at the conservatory since 2005, the flower has
been moved to a public area where it can be seen - and smelled - in all its,
On Friday, visitors to the St. Paul zoo and conservatory were wary of
returning to get a whiff of the smell, which is used to attract pollinating
bees and beetles. Some crinkled their noses when told about the flower's
But one was enthusiastic. Alec Abercrombie, a Shoreview boy visiting with
his mother and little brother, was game.
"Oh, yeah. I would (come back)," Alec said. "It sounds interesting."
His mother wasn't so sure.
"If I had to bring him," Kris Abercrombie said. "But I guess I don't know
what rotting flesh smells like."
Gustavus Adolphus College played host to a bloom last year, Minnesota's
first. Como's plants are gifts of the college, and in the rarefied world of
corpse flower aficionados, everyone seems to be watching and waiting for the
Como flower, dubbed "Bob," to do its thing.
Conservatory horticulturist Margaret Yaekel-Twum said she was in contact
with people as far away as Bonn,
Germany, who were following the progress via Webcam.
The blooms are rare, often occurring just once every 15 years or so. They
last for a day or two. The smell persists for about eight hours, Yaekel-Twum
said. And she has smelled one before.
"It did make my stomach turn," she said. "... And I have a pretty strong
For much of the plant's life, it grows a single, tall leaf out of its corm,
which is similar to a root ball. On the rare occasion when it flowers and
blooms - in this case expected sometime around Tuesday - its green collar
will fan out and turn a deep purple.
The color, along with the smell and the fact the plants actually heat up,
helps attract critters that normally feed on carrion.
The plants can grow to more than 9 feet high. However, the Como corpse
flower is young and stands about 26 inches. Yaekel-Twum said there is still
no guarantee the plant will bloom, but all signs say it will - the leaves
are already turning a telltale color.
Name: Titan arum
Known as: Corpse flower or carrion flower
Found in: Indigenous only to Sumatra, Indonesia
First U.S. bloom: New York Botanical Garden, 1937
Online: To follow progress of the Como Park corpse flower, go to