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At Nearly 7 Feet, Corpse Flower Spike Sets Botanic Garden Record

Spike the corpse flower (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden)Spike the corpse flower (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden)

Spike the corpse flower is on the comeback trail and climbing to new heights. 

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s titan arum plant has nearly doubled in size over the past two weeks as it again prepares to open up and release its rancid odor, which attracts groups of carrion beetles and flesh flies that mistake the plant for a dead animal.

More than 75,000 people visited Spike in August 2015 in anticipation of it blooming, but the plant did not have the energy to do so on its own.

Nearly three years later, Spike has been moved and repotted and is powering up for what could be a massive bloom. As of Wednesday, Spike was 82 inches tall, making it the Botanic Garden’s biggest corpse flower to enter the bloom cycle. (Corpse flower Java reached 81 inches last summer).

At 82 inches tall, Spike is the biggest corpse flower to enter its bloom cycle at the Chicago Botanic Garden. (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden)At 82 inches tall, Spike is the biggest corpse flower to enter its bloom cycle at the Chicago Botanic Garden. (Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden)

At 6 feet, 10 inches, Spike would be tied for the fifth tallest player on the Bulls’ current roster.

When, or if, the flower will bloom remains uncertain, however.

“We still can’t say for sure it’s [going to bloom] on a certain day because they’re very unpredictable,” said Jasmine Leonas, a spokesperson for the Botanic Garden.

Leonas said the plant’s bracts, or outer leaves, have fallen off, “a good sign” that Spike is preparing to open up.

Officially called Amorphophallus Titanum, the stench emitted by corpse flowers upon blooming lasts just 24 to 36 hours. The event itself is rare: Corpse flowers usually take three to five years to recharge and flower again. Spike, therefore, is slightly ahead of schedule.

Those wishing to keep tabs on Spike can track the plant’s status via the Botanic Garden’s live webcam.

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp aruppenthal@wttw.com | (773) 509-5623


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