CHICAGO (CBS) — People have been flocking to the Garfield Park Conservatory this weekend for the rare opportunity to see and smell a blooming corpse flower.
The smell hits you as you walk in the wing of the conservatory where the corpse flower – or titan arum – known as Persephone started blooming Friday. The 68-inch flower is named after the Greek goddess of the underworld.
“This is the largest flowering structure of any plant in the world, so it’s really cool. It’s a beautiful, beautiful flower. It’s coloration is just gorgeous. It’s kind of maroon and wine and green; and it’s amazing. Then, of course, your listeners don’t have the pleasure of smelling the corpse flower, which of course smells like a corpse,” said Mary Eysenbach, director of conservatories for the Chicago Park District. “Actually, this morning to me it smells like a corpse covered with rotten fish.”
Eysenbach said the smell attracts pollinators, which are typically carrion beetles and flesh flies in its native Sumatra.
She said it’s “really interesting” and “kind of cool” how people react differently to the smell.
“It’s really fun to see people engaged in plants. Every plant really has its own story. There’s a lot of cool plants. There’s just really cool stuff that plants do. This one just happens to be really huge and really smelly,” she said.