A rose by any other name would smell as sweet -- unless it smelled like rotting meat. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s giant flowering titan arum plant, known as the “corpse flower,” is getting ready to bloom and fans of the giant tropical flower will soon be lining up to catch a whiff.
The corpse flower, which can grow up to 10 feet tall, is one of the largest flowering plants in the world and its blooms usually last only 24 hours. The Zoo is anxiously waiting for its 18-year-old titan arum, affectionately named ‘Cronus’ after the leader of the Titans in Greek mythology, to bloom for only the third time in its life.
The Zoo’s horticulture staff estimates the blooming, and the accompanying odor, will occur sometime between July 31 and August 2, although it could happen sooner. In anticipation of the event the horticulturists moved the plant from its normal home in an off-exhibit greenhouse to the lower level of The RainForest.
“It’s unusual to have three blooms in only five years,” said Zoo Director Steve Taylor. “And it’s a nice gift for the horticulture staff to celebrate The RainForest’s 20th anniversary this year.”
The Zoo is one of only a few dozen institutions in the U.S. to successfully nurture the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) to full bloom, and Cronus’ bloom in 2007 was a first for the state of Ohio. Several titan arums have bloomed in the U.S. this year including Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and University of California, Davis.
Native only to the rainforests on the island of Sumatra, the corpse flower’s rare blooms in North American institutions often attract thousands of visitors and national media attention. Its smell is thought to be an adaptation used to attract its main pollinators in the wild, carrion beetles and flies.
The Zoo is home to 183 acres of award-winning gardens featuring tens of thousands of plants, flowers and trees maintained daily by a skilled team of horticulturists.
Northeast Ohio’s most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
To learn more, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.
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