The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Experience The Rare Corpse Flower's Truly Awful Stench At The Chicago Botanic Gardens

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 13, 2015 8:50PM

Illustration of a corpse flower

Normally, a walk through the Chicago Botanic Gardens is a chance to get up close to some of the most beautiful blooms nature has to offer. If you want to stop and smell the roses, you’ll have over 5,000 of them to choose from.

This week, though, all eyes are on the semi-tropical building of the garden campus. Normally fragrant with jasmine, this building has a new and exciting guest: the corpse flower. Its name is CBG Spike, and it’s a titan arum, or amorphophallus titanum flower. An exotic from the rainforests of Sumatra, it can grow to eight feet tall, and it emits a powerful and by all accounts terrible smell when its massive flower opens. Blooming is a rare event for the titan, and it can take each plant over a decade to produce a flower which only stays open for a few hours.

This will be the first time a titan has ever bloomed at the garden, and there’s a lot of excitement around it, with the garden staff updating its growth each day and mapping its progress. Flower aficionados can participate in a poll to guess when Spike will bloom. The Botanic Garden has promised that when the rare event happens they will announce it right away, inviting visitors to hurry over and see it, keeping doors open to the semi-tropical building until 2 a.m. the night the bloom bursts forth.

There are thousands already waiting to experience the smell for themselves, even though it’s said to be a potent combination of all things decaying and rancid meant to attract carrion beetles and flesh flies. It’s certainly a rare and unusual opportunity for plant lovers and science buffs alike. You can be notified when Spike blooms by signing up for the garden’s newsletter or by stalking them on Twitter or Facebook.

Admission to the garden is always free, and summer hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. There is a standard parking fee of $25 for non-members, but this will be waived if Spike blooms after hours.