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A Putrid New Corpse Flower Is About To Bloom At Garfield Park Conservatory

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 15, 2016 6:58PM

The corpse flower prepares to bloom. Photo courtesy of Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory's new corpse flower has begun to bloom. The rare and especially stinky flower has been on watch for days now as it prepares to open, and the Conservatory is inviting the public to come catch a whiff of the new bloom until 12 a.m. tonight.

On Tuesday, we found ourselves on corpse flower alert again, as the Garfield Park Conservatory revealed that Persephone, the flower of the hour, had reached 68". Notably, it had also stopped growing. We knew, from our previous experiences with Spike, Alice, and Sprout, that when the titan arum stops growing and maintains a high temperature, it's pooling its energy for a potential bloom.

The "rotten-meat-garbage-on-a-hot-day" stench is strongest when the flower first blooms. When we arrived for Alice's opening, we could smell her in the courtyard of the Regenstein Center before we even entered the building and went through another set of doors to actually see her. Alice brought 8000 people to the Chicago Botanic Garden when she bloomed, and we expect that there will be large crowds coming to see Persephone as well.

We spoke with Garfield Park Conservatory's Director of Conservatories, Mary Eysenbach, and she says they're ready, with "plenty of space to accomodate visitors." She also hopes that the bloom will be more "accessible to those who may not be able to make it to Glencoe," noting that this is one of the reasons they were grateful for the plant, which was donated by the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

She also hopes, as visitors savor the stench, that they "begin to think about ways plants adapt and attract pollinators"—especially honeybees, which are in danger.

This boon of blooms in the Chicagoland area is not only fun for botany enthusiasts and people looking to experience the weird and wild world of plants, it's helping scientists gain more information about the species. Pollen from Spike, the first titan for the botanic garden, and from Denver's deathly darling were used to pollinate Alice, and Alice produced fruit, which created a wealth of seeds for scientists to share, study and cultivate.

If you missed the corpse flower action earlier this year, now is a great time to get in on the action. Follow the conservatory's Facebook page for updates on Persephone's progression, and head out to see her when she reaches full bloom! We promise the scent (and the giant flower, for that matter) are unforgettable. Admission to the Garfield Park Conservatory is free, with free parking, and is accessible off of the Green Line.

"The odor is strongest in the early hours of the morning," so the Conservatory will be open to visitors until 12 a.m. (last admission will be at 11:30 p.m.) Friday, and re-open at 6 a.m. Saturday. Garfield Park Conservatory is located at 300 N. Central Park Ave.