'Corpse Flower' to bloom soon in Chicago

A smell not familiar to those who frequent the Chicago Botanic Garden will soon be wafting through the air. It will be a combination of garlic, rotten fish, limburger cheese and smelly feet.

- A smell not familiar to those who frequent the Chicago Botanic Garden will soon be wafting through the air. It will be a combination of garlic, rotten fish, limburger cheese and smelly feet.

Where’s it coming from? A gigantic, rare flower.

When the Corpse Flower, from the rainforests of Indonesia, blooms in 6 to 10 days, it will produce a putrid odor.

"That smell is there to attract those pollinators, in particular dung beetles and flies, down to the center of the flower stalk," said outdoor floriculturist Tim Pollak.

"When they're down in there, they're gathering pollen, just like a bee would and taking it from flower to flower in its native habitat in the wild," he added.

Pollak has nurtured the flower, and 8 of its friends, behind the scenes at the Chicago Botanic Garden for more than 10 years.

"We are like proud parents, this is like a first time child of ours, so definitely really excited," Pollak said.

The plant, named Spike, may grow to be 8 feet tall before it blooms in just a number of days. 

And when it does, the stench will only last a few hours. 

"I think it's just plain weird," said visitor Ike Wharton.

While it seems worlds away from any plant we're used to, it's actually not too far-fetched.

"Believe it or not, this plant is actually related Jack and the Pulpit which is a native Illinois wildflower, it's just those are small and they don't smell as bad as this one does," Pollak said.

The Botanic Garden wants as many people as possible to experience the smell. So when the Corpse Flower blooms, which they say will be at night, they will provide free admission from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.


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