U corpse flower in full 'teenager gym socks' bloom

Juan Schlieper reacts to the corpse flower smell with his dad, Erich.
Juan Schlieper reacts to the smell of the corpse flower as his dad, Erich, holds up him to give him an up-close view on Wednesday at the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences Conservatory. Juan compared the flower's smell to fish and said it wasn't as bad as expected.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

The curator at the conservatory at the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota said one of its rarest specimens burst into flower for an apt occasion on Wednesday.

"It actually opened yesterday, right when spring started, some time around three or four in the afternoon," said Lisa Philander, keeper of the legendarily stinky corpse flower, known for the odor of rot it gives off when it blooms.

"I can smell it all the way down the hall into my office," Philander said.

The plant, named "Chauncy", has been in the U collection for years, but bloomed for the first time in 2016. The titan arum plants are native to equatorial Indonesia and are very rare. Philander believes the University of Minnesota's plant was originally bred from seeds collected for Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. Pollen from Gustavus has been used at the U to help breed one of the two plants it has in St. Paul and the U now has a dozen seeds growing, as well.

Olivia Sparks of St. Paul holds her nose as she views the corpse flower.
Olivia Sparks of St. Paul holds her nose Wednesday as she views the corpse flower. Sparks said the smell is like walking by a dumpster on a hot day.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

The flowering of the plant isn't just rare, it's brief. Philander said the bloom lasted only about 48 hours when it appeared the last time. The plant first showed signs of blooming again back in December.

The conservatory is hosting visitors, as well as painters from the Minnesota School of Botanical Art, who are painting a portrait of the flower. The conservatory will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., until the bloom folds.

You can also see a live stream of the bloom and its admirers here.

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