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Another corpse flower rises to the occasion

Move over, Morty.

Fester, another corpse flower at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, shows signs it could soon bloom after years of being dormant.

Fester's awakening comes on the heels of Morty's bloom last week.

Fester should flower in two to three weeks, said Kristin Pochopin, the director of horticulture.

"He's growing like gangbusters, and was even a little bit crooked and straightened himself out," she said.

"He has grown 9.5 inches since Friday, so he is on the fast track to bloom," added Erin Grajek, vice president of marketing.

The 3-foot-tall plant is now on view.

Corpse flowers grow a large leaf from time to time to store energy and can grow 20 feet tall. That's what Pochopin suspected at first with Fester, until it became clear he was getting ready to bloom.

Pochopin said she's been giving the plant plenty of fertilizer to encourage the growth.

The Botanical Gardens had 3,200 visitors last Monday and Tuesday to see Morty, a larger-than-usual turnout.

But some left disappointed because the flower's spaeth didn't reveal the deep burgundy colors the plant is known for.

"Morty bloomed, but his outer leaf, the spaeth, did not open all the way and it caused confusion," Grajek said. "The spaeth is the spectacular part, and he didn't put on a show like he did in 2014.

"But he did do exactly what he was supposed to do as far as the flower and the bloom, and he did stink really badly," Grajek said.

Everything about the corpse flower is unpredictable, said Dave Swarts, the Botanical Gardens CEO.

"It was unexpected, as some births are," Swarts said.

Corpse flowers – the actual name is Amorphophallus titanium – are native to the rainforests of Sumatra and Indonesia. They typically bloom every seven to 10 years.

Corpse flowers Morty, Fester and Morticia were obtained four years ago.

Swarts objected to the initial deal: paying $1,200 for one plant.

"I thought it was the craziest thing in the world to pay $1,200 for a plant," Swarts said. "Fortunately, there were some far-reaching, thoughtful individuals on the staff who said, 'You're crazy, we need to do something here.' And so not only did we get one, but we got three for the same price.

"It has certainly proved to be a great addition to our collection," Swarts said. "It's a very unique flower, and we're excited to have it."

Morticia remains in a dormant state.

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