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Rare "corpse flower" appears to be ready to bloom in Northern Colorado

Rare "corpse flower" appears to be ready to bloom at Colorado State University
Rare "corpse flower" appears to be ready to bloom at Colorado State University 00:35

A special event for the botanical community in Colorado looks like it is about to happen. A corpse flower looks like it is getting ready to bloom at a conservatory on the Colorado State University campus.

Colorado State University
Tammy Brenner measures Cosmo in the Plant Growth Facility Conservatory on May 16.   John Eisele/Colorado State University

There are believed to be fewer than 1,000 amorphophallus titanum plants in the world. The blooms can reach a height of 8 feet. They also get their common name from the smell they produce when they're in bloom; while many say it smells like decaying flesh, others claim the smell is more like rotten fish or garlic. 

Colorado State University
John Eisele/Colorado State University

The corpse flower is located in CSU's Plant Growth Facility Conservatory, which is part of the university's College of Agricultural Sciences. The plant is believed to be about eight years old and its nickname is Cosmo.

Cosmo came out of dormancy in late April or early May. It could be fully in bloom by Memorial Day weekend.

Tammy Brenner, the manager of the conservatory, brought Cosmo to Northern Colorado in 2016 and this is its first known blooming event.

"Two weeks ago, it started looking a little bit more full, a little bit more plump. It started growing and shooting out stalks, and we realized something really big was about to happen," Brenner said in a prepared statement.

The odor from the amorphophallus titanum bloom usually is only strong for the first day or so, and the bloom generally only happens for two or three days. Another bloom might not happen for many years, or not at all.

CSU will allow visitors to see the flower when and if it fully blooms. The Plant Growth Facility Conservatory is located at 1241 Libbie Coy Way in Fort Collins. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the days when it's blooming. Drivers are asked to park in the South College Avenue Garage on 121 West Pitkin Street.

The last time there was excitement over a corpse flower was two years ago when the Denver Botanic Gardens plant "Lil' Stinker" bloomed at the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory.

Amorphophallus titanum is native to rainforests on an island in Indonesia and the flower's smell is secreted in order to attract flies and carrion beetles for pollination.

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