"Spike" had to be opened manually in order for fans of its foul odor to get a whiff.
It’s called Spike, and it smells disgusting — but not as gross as people had hoped at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The famous “corpse flower” was set to bloom in Chicago this past weekend, but it had to be opened manually and there were bad signs for its health, according to a CBS report.
The outer sheath of the plant, also called the spathe, was rubbery, which is a bad signs according to a scientist quoted in the report. Cutting that part off showed that the female flowers were dried out inside. There was some odor, but not much — and certainly less than there was a few days ago, indicating the plant may be past its prime.
The male flowers haven’t matured yet. Once they do, the planet’s caretakers will take its pollen and freeze it to attempt to pollenate future plants.
Hundreds of people gathered into the greenhouse to catch a glimpse — and a sniff — of Spike, a “corpse flower” that is so named for its awful smell that resembles that of a rotting corpse. Also known as the titan arum, it is found in the rainforests of Sumatra and is often a curiosity at botanical gardens because its extraordinary smell, as well as its fairly majestic appearance.
It takes years for the plant to bloom when it is first planted, and now that this particular corpse flower appears ready to go dormant, it will probably send a 12 foot shoot up to recharge for one more try in the next three years or so. Spike has been around for about a decade, and it’s been a popular exhibit: about 57,000 visitors have come in just the last three weeks.
The Chicago Botanic Garden does have about eight other corpse flowers, although Spike is certainly the star of the show.