Corpse Flower Just Can't Blossom, Even With Scientists' Help

First Posted: Sep 01, 2015 01:41 PM EDT

Have you ever smelled a corpse flower? Known as the titan arum, this flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, has this particular name for a specific reason. No. There's not a dead body coming out of it. It just happens to sort of smell like one.

At the Chicago Botanic Garden, as it was on the brink of blooming, garden visitors were literally dying to come on by and see the sight. In fact, the Chicago Tribune estimated that over 50,000 people came out to the garden in Glencoe, Ill. After all, you might come, too, to see a plant that had been pampered and nurtured over the last 12 years, with everyone eager for it to bloom. Unfortunately, it was having some difficulties. Though staff cut around the edges and the base of the plant, it was still not enough to open.

"It's disappointing that it didn't open because it's really quite splendid. They're amazing plants. Their flowers are amazing and their odor is amazing," Patrick Herendeen, conservation scientists at the Chicago Botanic Garden, said via the Chicago Tribune. "However, this is not unprecedented. It just didn't perform as expected. But that's just like our garden plants at home."

Of course, garden staff have reassured visitors that it will bloom again. They refer to this rare and pampered flower as Spike. The corpse flower, also called Amorphallus titanium, lives in Sumatra, existing every 40 hectares in the wild. And though it blooms rarely, when it does, it lets out a decaying meat smell to attract potential pollinators, including flies. According to Live Science, there are about 100 cultivated corpse flowers.

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