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The First Year

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The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory said one of its rarest — and most pungent flowers — is about to bloom.

The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) affectionately nicknamed “Horace” will bloom for the first time since arriving at Como in 2019.

The flowers are known for the odor of rot they give off when they bloom and are incredibly rare — fewer than 1,000 individual plants remain in the wild, making witnessing its brief and malodorous bloom a rare opportunity.

“If you’ve ever smelled a dead animal, you’re going to maybe suspect that’s what it is,” said Jen Love, the horticulturist at Como Conservatory that’s been taking care of Horace. “It’s sort of like really terrible, hot garbage.”

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The corpse flower is seen at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory on Thursday in St. Paul.

Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Love has been taking care of Horace for the past five years. From seed to flower, corpse flower plants typically take seven to 10 years to grow. After the initial flowering, the plant will usually stink up the joint again every two to four years.

Love expects this plant to bloom sometime before May 19, most likely in the next seven to 10 days. Once it does, it will only emit its rotting smell for about 24 hours. The smell is most pungent at night.

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