What's that smell: Cornell corpse flower expected to blossom soo

What's that smell: Cornell corpse flower expected to blossom soon

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ITHACA (WBNG) -- The rare corpse flower is expected to bloom and release its stench in the coming weeks at Cornell.

It's resting under a tree in Minns Garden in front of Cornell University's Plant Science.

Native to Indonesia, only a few remain in controlled locations, like greenhouses at colleges and universities or in arboretums.

The corpse flower, or titan arum, gets its name because of the smell it releases when ready to reproduce.

"When the female flowers are ready to be pollinated, [the flower] will create a lot of heat, it generates heat, and it releases an aroma that can charitably be called 'horrible,'" said Karl Niklas, Professor in Cornell University's Department of Plant Biology. "It smells like rotting flesh."

The flower will unfurl outdoors, which is a big change from a greenhouse because of Ithaca's uncontrolled temperature swing from day to night.

The cause of the pungent odor released by the corpse flower when it blossoms stems from the release of four chemicals that each have their own unique smell.

"One of the chemicals smells like sweaty old socks, another one smells like human feces, and a third and fourth one smell like rotten fish, so you're going to have something that is, how shall I put it, not pleasant to inhale," said Niklas.

This smell is made to be repulsive so that it attracts insects and flies, which are key to this flower's reproduction.

Being outside may bring more of those insects to help the flower pollinate.

Once the flower blossoms, it only produces the smell for one to two days, so university officials are watching, and smelling, the flower closely.

For more information on Cornell's corpse flower and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, head to its website.

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