Corpse flower expected to bloom at Colorado State University

May 21, 2024, 5:18 PM

The excitement of the botanical community at Colorado State University is blossoming.

A corpse flower in the Plant Growth Facility Conservatory on CSU’s campus in Fort Collins is showing signs that it’s going to bloom for the first time ever in the upcoming days. Tammy Brenner, CSU’s Plant Growth Facilities Manager, expects it to bloom around Saturday, May 25, more specifically.

The distinguishing attributes of corpse flowers may be obvious to those who have encountered one — not only can the plant reach a height of up to twelve feet, but one of its more unusual, and some might say, repulsive, characteristics is its smell, hence the name. To many, the blooms smell like decaying flesh.

The plants are most fragrant during peak bloom at night and early in the morning, although the odor typically only lasts a day or two. It originally emerged from dormancy in late April or early May.

The 8-year-old plant, which is very much alive and far from being a “corpse,” touts the scientific name Amorphophallus titanum, but is nicknamed Cosmo, and is part of the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Cosmo solidified itself as a CSU fixture in 2016.

This event is considered rare, as corpse flowers only bloom once every seven to nine years, as reported by the Eden Project. Even at that, the blooms for only two or three days, according to the United States Botanic Garden’s website.

Discovered in 1878, the tall flower is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, it is also the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. With less than 1,000 estimated to be in existence, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as Endangered.

The Denver Botanic Gardens has two corpse flowers in its collection, Lil’ Stinker and Stinky, that last reached full bloom in 2022.

Visitors interested in the pungent plant will be able to view the flower once it blooms at 1241 Libbie Coy Way in Fort Collins. Parking is available at the South College Avenue Garage on 121 West Pitkin Street. On the days that Cosmo is in bloom, it will be available to see from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Corpse flower expected to bloom at Colorado State University