Crowds flock to see rare, pungent ‘corpse flower’ bloom

By David Ferguson
Thursday, June 21, 2012 13:40 EDT
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Morticia the corpse flower
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The Sumatran “corpse flower” (Amorphophallus titanum) is famous for smelling like its name, described variously as “rotten,” “musty” and “earthy.” At the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, a corpse flower named Morticia bloomed for the first time this week, reaching its fullest open span on Tuesday night, an event that occurs on average every 15 years and lasts for a period of about two days.

According to the Boston Globe, Morticia has received nearly 12,000 visitors since Friday as onlookers lined up outside the hot, humid greenhouse where the plant is currently housed. The rare plant smells like it does to attract carrion-eating insects, an instrumental part of the its pollination process.

Zoo officials told the Globe that only 30 corpse flowers have bloomed in captivity. The big plants (Morticia weighs 200 pounds and is 4 feet, 9 inches tall) require careful maintenance in balmy conditions resembling the climate of their Indonesian homeland. The greenhouse at Franklin Park is kept at 82 degrees with a humidity level of 80 to 90 percent.

Morticia is one of five corpse flower plants donated to the zoo by Dr. Louis Ricciardiello, an oral surgeon from Laconia, New Hampshire. Ricciardiello, who has been working with the plants for many years, currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest corpse flower bloom, which measured more than 10 feet, 2 inches, in 2010.

The bloom was expected to end Wednesday night or Thursday morning, with the greenhouse closing to visitors on Thursday.

Watch video about this story, which aired Thursday, June 21, and is embedded via CNN, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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