Let the stink begin!
Morty the corpse flower began blooming at around 10 p.m. Sunday in its home at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens. The bloom started the 24- to 48-hour clock in which the plant emits a smell compared to rotting flesh and flowers.
"It's disgustingly beautiful," Erin Grajek, marketing director for the Botanical Gardens, said Monday morning.
"This is kind of the Super Bowl for us," Grajek said, noting the last time Morty bloomed in 2014 set a Botanical Gardens attendance record. "To have such a really cool plant in our collection that people want to smell the stench of is just weird, and we love that."
The plant's expedited growth in recent weeks had taken the Botanical Gardens' staff by surprise. Ordinarily, the corpse flower blooms every seven to 10 years, after sending off a large leaf to absorb energy that is stored by the plant. The leaf last grew in October 2015, and can do that several times before the flower blooms again.
That's what staff thought was first happening with the plant.
"We're all a little caught off-guard," Grajek said. "They're weird plants and you're dealing with Mother Nature. She's in charge. I don't know that there is a textbook behavior for these guys, especially since it's a botanical garden and we're in Buffalo and it's not 90 degrees and humid every day."
The plants are native to the rainforests of Sumatra and Indonesia.
There are big differences between the last time Morty bloomed and this time.
"He hasn't done anything that he did the first time he opened," Grajek said. "We tracked his growth then, and the growth started to slow, then the outer sheaths fells off and he bloomed a day later. And he was much bigger.
"This time the sheaths fell off and he didn't bloom for about a week."
Morty this time around is also taking longer for the outer part of the flower, called the spaeth, to open up. It should reveal a deep burgundy color that's almost a little velvety depending on the light, said Kristin Pochopin, director of horitculture.
Morty stood 7 feet 8 inches four years ago, compared to its current 4-foot-8-inch height.
"There seriously hasn't been a day since 2014 that someone hasn't asked bout Morty," Grajek said. "Now's their chance to see him."
Hours to see the corpse flower – its actual name is Amorphophallus titanium – have been extended until 11 p.m. today and Tuesday to accommodate viewers.