Rare, huge 'corpse flower' that smells like dead bodies blooms in Illinois

Head Curator Dan of the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens measures Grimace the corpse flower at 80 inches tall Friday morning. (Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens/Facebook)

ROCKFORD, Illinois (Meredith) — A huge purple flower that smells like rotting corpses is in full bloom at a conservatory in Illinois.

The bloom of the 15-year-old "corpse flower" at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is thought to be a first in Rockford, Illinois' history, according to the Rockford Register Star. The city is located in the northernmost part of the state near the Wisconsin border.

The rare plant, nicknamed "Grimace," has not bloomed before. The Titan arum plant, better known as the "corpse flower," typically takes 15 years to reach a mature size for blooming, putting Grimace right on track. The plant then flowers every 7-20 years, with its bloom lasting on 24-48 hours.

The conservatory's website says the Indonesian plant has a distinct smell of "rotting flesh and burnt sugar" when it opens. The rancid smell attracts pollinators like flies and beetles.

The corpse flower also has one of the largest flowering structures in the plant kingdom, holding the Guinness World Record for the world's tallest recorded bloom at 10 feet, 2.25 inches tall.

Grimace stands 80.5 inches tall, or about 6.7 feet. The conservatory posted numerous updates on Grimace's bloom on its Facebook page and stayed open late to ensure all guests who wanted to see Grimace got the chance to.

Another corpse flower in San Marino, California is attracting visitors as well. This flower, nicknamed "Stink," began blooming at the Huntington Library Thursday night. Stink's bloom is expected to last only 24 hours.

According to the Associated Press, Stink is the sixth corpse flower to bloom at the Huntington Library. Two other corpse flowers, nicknamed "Stunk" and "Stank," should bloom in the next few days.

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