August 1, 2014

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Sweet sight, sick smell

‘Corpse flower’ in bloom for the first time in 13 years at the Cleveland zoo

CLEVELAND — It took 13 years to bloom, and boy does it stink.
The rare titan arum plant at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo bloomed Monday to the delight of botanists who had been waiting for the 6-foot-high plant to make a showing.
The plant has a scent described as a putrid or flesh-rotting odor, which has earned it the nickname “corpse flower.”
The bloom only lasts a day or so and is on display on the ground floor of the zoo’s RainForest, where it will stay on display — bloom gone or not — at least through the end of the week.
The titan arum is one of the world’s largest flowers and rarely blooms even in its native Sumatran rainforest habitat. The zoo joins just 20 institutions nationwide to have reported titan arum bloomings.
“We’ve waited so long for this day, and we’re really thrilled to have such a rare blooming happen at the zoo,” said zoo horticulturist Don Krock. “It’s a beautiful sight to see, but the smell is really bad.”
The zoo received its titan arum from the National Aquarium in Baltimore in 1994.
Zoo horticulturists have been anxiously anticipating a bloom since then, and about a week-and-a-half ago, they noticed changes in the plant suggesting they’d finally get to see — and smell — the titan arum in all its glory.

If you go.

Where: The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way; the zoo is accessible from Interstates 71, 77, 90 and 480
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with hours extended to 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day

Cost: $10, $5 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children under 2 and zoo members; parking is free
Info: clemetzoo.com or (216) 661-6500

072407flower.jpg Bruce Bishop / Chronicle
A little girl is dwarfed by the titan arum — better known as the “corpse flower” because it emits a pungent odor that mimics the smell of rotting flesh — at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Monday. The zoo’s flower was in bloom for the first time in 13 years. Experts say the bloom only lasts about 24 hours.

ct_video.jpg See the giant flower in bloom and hear an interview with horticulturist Don Krock.