Thursday, April 18, 2024

Corpse Flower Blooms and Dooms at Cincinnati Zoo

“Morticia” is the name that social media followers chose for the rare corpse flower in the greenhouse at the Cincinnati Zoo Discovery Forest. The “corpse” flower gets its namesake because scientists say when it blooms, the beautiful flower smells like a decaying corpse. Of course, we had to check it out.

The smell is meant to attract pollinators that are attracted to dead animals like dung beetles and flies. The corpse flower can grow up to 15 feet tall and have leaves 13 feet wide.

Cincinnati Zoo officials say in a press release that they received this flower three years ago from the Chicago Botanic Garden. Since then, the zoo’s horticulture team has been watching the flower for signs it will bloom. This only happens every five to ten years. This scent is a true sign that it’s happening.

Photo Credit: Bryan Busovicki/The Travel Addict

Because the flowers usually only bloom once every five to ten years it tends to draw a huge crowd. The bloom and smell only last about 24 to 36 hours. So you have a small window to witness it when it happens.

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

Wait times in lines of curious spectators stretched for over three hours at the Zoo on Saturday. Local media reported on Friday that the flower was going to bloom over the weekend with prime viewing on Saturday. Seeing Morticia is free with admission to the zoo for $25. AAA does offer discounted admission for $15.

Photo Credit: Bryan Busovicki/The Travel Addict

Travel Addict contributor Bryan Busovicki braved the line Saturday afternoon and was able to see and photograph the flower today. “The flower smelled like a mix of smelly dirty laundry and garlic,” Busovicki said.

Representatives from the zoo said the smell was much worse on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Busovicki met people in line who had driven several hours from Indiana just to see the flower. There are other corpse flowers in botanical garden zoos across the country. Be on the lookout for a smelly bloom near you!

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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