Franklin Park Zoo’s corpse flower, Morticia, begins to bloom and will be fully open Wednesday morning, stench included
Just about 9,000 people have come to see the lovely Morticia at the Franklin Park Zoo, and it hasn’t been for her looks. It’s been for her smell.
Morticia, the amorphophallus titanium better known as the “corpse flower,” which originates in western Indonesia, has began to bloom in the Franklin Park Zoo greenhouse, according to zoo representatives. The plant began the approximate four-hour blooming process Tuesday afternoon that extended into the evening, drawing onlookers in to catch a whiff – a scent that would have to wait until morning.
“On average, [the blooming process] takes three to four hours,” said Harry Liggett, manager of Horticulture and Grounds at Zoo New England in an interview Tuesday evening. “It will be fully bloomed within the next few hours.”
The Franklin Park Zoo greenhouse, which had a viewing until 8 p.m. Tuesday, showed the “corpse flower’s” progress. Officials said the sheaths surrounding the alien-looking flower have peeled back significantly.
The flower will be fully bloomed by the time crowds can revisit for free Wednesday morning, from 8 to 9:30 a.m., according to Brooke Wardrop, the director of communication of horticulture at Zoo New England.
The flower’s biggest draw is the stench it emits once fully opened.
“It reminded me of rotting fish,” said Liggett, who experienced the odor when the first “corpse flower” bloomed on June 7. “The first one that bloomed happened before the greenhouse was open to the public,” he said.
Morticia’s species has been described by some onlookers as a “once in a lifetime experience,” considering the flowers typically last two days and then the plant does not bloom again for 15 years.
“I’ve been to see one other flower bloom in Connecticut,” said Martha Clouse, 60, of Saugus who described herself as a “corpse flower stalker.” She said she was also a gardener.
“I plan to be here 8 a.m. tomorrow,” she said. “I want to be knocked over by the stink.”
Clouse said she caught a faint whiff of the flower she saw at the University of Connecticut a while back. “I think if you ever had chicken or beef go bad in your refrigerator, it’s like that.”
Clouse also commended the zoo for getting the flower to bloom in the first place.
“It’s a unique thing for here, to even get it to this stage,” she said, referencing the specific habitat Morticia needs. The greenhouse is kept at about 82 degrees with a humidity level at 80 percent to 90 percent, according to Liggett.
“It’s an example of exemplary gardening,” said Clouse.
The masses continue to visit Morticia as the blooming continues.
“As of early this morning, 8,827 people have visited,” said Wardrop. “That’s since Friday.”
Morticia will be available for a specialty viewing Wednesday morning free of charge from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the zoo’s “zebra entrance” on Franklin Park Road. The greenhouse will close briefly at 9:30 a.m. and re-open to the public at 10 a.m. with regular admission, Wardrop said.Colin A. Young, Globe Correspondent, contributed to this report. Derek J. Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.
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