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It's Alive — But Smells Like The Dead! Rare Corpse Flower In Bloom At Franklin Park Zoo

Sunday is the best day to get a whiff of the rarely-smelled corpse flower, with one now in bloom and on display for the first time at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, a zoo spokeswoman said.

Pugsley, the corpse flower now in bloom at the Franklin Park Zoo. (Courtesy Franklin Park Zoo)
Pugsley, the corpse flower now in bloom at the Franklin Park Zoo. (Courtesy Franklin Park Zoo)

The Amorphophallus titanium, located in the zoo's tropical forest exhibit, is better-known as the titan arum, or corpse flower. The latter nickname has been given to describe the flower's pungent odor, which is frequently compared to the scent of decaying flesh and is only emitted during the plant's extremely limited bloom period.

In the five years the zoo has housed Pugsley, this is the first time the plant has flowered.

Is there a better way to get into the Halloween spirit than inhaling deeply near a towering rare plant that smells like the dead — especially one that the zoo has dubbed Pugsley (after the fictional Addams family character)?

But again, you'll likely have to act today if you want to be part of the small number who observe its magenta hues and catch its strong scents. The corpse flower only blooms for a period of 24 to 48 hours — and zoo officials cannot guarantee what it will look or smell like by Monday. The park is open until 4 p.m. Sunday.

Corpse flowers like Pugsley are "very sensitive and conditions must be just right for them to bloom," the zoo's statement said.

As of Sunday, zoo officials say the monstrous plant's bloom measured at more than 2 and a half feet across and was standing at just over 5 feet tall, having shot up significantly as it came closer to flowering. The zoo says the blooms are "among the most gigantic of flowers," with some blooms measuring nine feet high and six feet across.

Pugsley is originally from the Indonesian island Sumatra, the zoo said.

For those who want more spooky fun, Franklin Park Zoo also is displaying "mythical creatures" and hosting a "haunted adventure" at its Midnight Zoo, which runs on weekends throughout October from 6 to 10 p.m.

With additional reporting from The Associated Press

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated an estimate of the plant's diameter from zoo officials in inches, not feet. The post has been updated with the plant's measurements as of Sunday.

This article was originally published on October 02, 2016.

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Lisa Creamer Managing Editor, Digital News
Lisa Creamer is WBUR's managing editor for digital news.

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