Corpse flower’s first bloom after 18 years at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 17:54:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The corpse flower known for its beauty as much as its smell, is in its first full bloom Thursday at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

The Gardens' horticultural staff grew this flower from a pea-sized seedling from Malaysia in 2000 to its current 53 pounds. Typically the flower grows a leaf taller than five-feet, but two weeks ago staff realized it was growing a flower, blooming for its first time Wednesday night. It's expected to close by Friday morning.

"I think it smells like, I don’t even know, it just smells putrid!" said Maya Warner, a nine-year-old visiting from Chicago.

Oh the stench, and its beauty.

"When I came out of the cave I was impressed when I saw it," said eight-year-old Shay Duffy. "It was like blowing my mind!"

"I don’t know how to describe it but it’s beautiful: I like how it’s like a frill on the outside," said seven-year-old Lena Horness.

Blooming for its first time at Frederik Meijer Gardens after 18 years, staff say more than 4,100 visitors witnessed the corpse flower by 2 p.m. Thursday. The lines wrapped for about a two-hour wait throughout the day until its 5 p.m. closing. Visitors tell FOX 17 its stench was like "rotten meat," "a body," or "it just doesn't smell good."

"[It's] like when you have a mouse stuck in a wall somewhere and you can smell it, but you can never find it," said Jason Cone.

Others say it strikes a resemblance to the carnivorous Little Shop of Horrors plant from '86.

"Reminds me of Seymour, you know Little Shop of Horrors? ‘Feed me, feed me, feed me!’ Yeah, that’s what it reminds me of," said Carol Stell, a Jenison resident. "It's alien looking."

Despite the resemblance, all ages braved the smell.

"The pollinator for this is the same kinds of things that you’d see on dead carcasses on the side of the road," said Steve LaWarre, Frederick Meijer Gardens Director of Horticulture. "So, its color and its fragrance is just being a billboard to call in those pollinators."

This corpse flower took 18 years for its first bloom, though LaWarre is hopeful it'll bloom again within the next three to five years.

"It’s totally worth the wait," said Arla Beukema, "totally worth the wait."