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Corpse Flower "Spike" Manually Opened At Chicago Botanic Garden

(CBS) --The wait is over for Spike, the corpse flower at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but it's not the smelly end fans had hoped for, reports WBBM's Bob Roberts.

Spike's outer sheath or spathe was rubbery and research scientist Patrick Herendeen says that was a bad sign. Once it was cut off, he says the female flowers were dried out.

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"We could smell a bit of odor in the morning the last several days but the odor today was much less than what it was a couple days ago so based on that it seems like it was past its prime," Herendeen says.

The male flowers have yet to mature. If they do, the pollen will be frozen for future pollination attempts.

Spike Corpse Flower
The female flowers (top) were dried and past prime, the male parts (bottom) were not mature. (Credit: Bob Roberts)

Hundreds of fans filled the greenhouse and a nearby theater equipped with a live video feed. The crowd was lively and curious, although one man compared it to a wake.

Soon the plant will go dormant, send up a 12 foot shoot and begin to recharge for another try, possibly as soon as three years.

Floriculturist Tim Pollack raised spike for over a decade and he's moved by the people who came to see it before it could even bloom, 57,000 visitors in three weeks.

"It's a great story," Pollack said. "We're overwhelmed."

In addition to Spike, the Chicago Botanic Garden has eight other corpse flowers.

The Chicago Botanic Garden says more than 57,000 people visited to see Spike in the last three weeks.

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