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Corpse flower blooms at Mitchell Park Domes

Posted at 8:55 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 06:45:56-04

MILWAUKEE — A new plant is in bloom at Mitchell Park Domes, so prepare your noses!

The corpse flower is back at the Domes. The flower, also known as Amorphophallus titanum, emits a powerful odor that is described as "rotting flesh."

Dozens of people came to the Domes on Monday to get a whiff of this stinky plant.

"It smells as advertised. It really does smell like death," Elizabeth Updike said.

corpse flower
Dozens of people lined up to smell the Corpse Plant at the Mitchell Park Domes.

This was a very unique occasion. Mary Braunreiter, a horticulturalist at the Domes, said the flower only blooms every seven to ten years. The flower began blooming on Sunday July 11 and will only last 24 to 48 hours. That's one reason so many people came to the Domes on Monday. However, some visitors said the smell seemed to be fading already.

"No smell for me," Helen Gardner, who came to the Domes three times in the past four days to get a whiff of the plant, said.

Overall, moments like these are becoming fewer and fewer.

"A lot of the natural habitat is disappearing, so it's very rare and becoming rarer," Braunreiter said.

The plant is only found in Sumatra. Intensive logging is happening there and Corpse Plants are being replaced with palm trees in order to harvest palm oil, Braunreiter said.

What is with the smell? Well, Corpse Plants smell so bad because that is how they attract flies and carrion beetles. Pollen rubs off on those insects, which is eventually taken to a female plant where it can hopefully begin to reproduce.

Admission for adults is $8, $6 for juniors, and $5 for students. Kids under 5 get in free. The Domes will be open on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Domes are closed on Tuesday.

Masks are still required in the venue.

While it might be too late to get a whiff of this stinky plant, you won't have to wait seven to ten years. The Domes has a few Corpse Plants and expects the next one to bloom in three to five years.

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