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It's Getting Rot in Here: Corpse Flower blooming is nigh

You may be surprised to know that the corpse flower is an actual flower, not an animated movie by Tim Burton or a line of cosmetics from Hot Topic. Officially known as amorphophallus titanum (Latin for "huge misshapen penis"), this giant of a plant - whose bloom does indeed resemble some kind of HR Geiger-designed sex toy - is famous for its pungent odor, which resembles, yes, decomposing flesh. And now you can see one (and smell one) for yourself at the Franklin Park Zoo.

A custom display has been built to house the 9-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide plant, which flowers rarely even in the wild - the blossom only lasts between 24-48 hours, occurring only once every few years. The combination of rarity and gross-out factor has made the corpse flower a favorite ploy to draw visitors to zoos and arboritums worldwide, starting with the New York Botanical Gardens in 1937. (Wikipedia adds that this first exhibition lead to the corpse flower being named the official flower of the Bronx, but that really sounds like someone is just trolling the Bronx.)

The Franklin Park flower was donated by Dr. Louis Ricciardiello, an oral surgeon in Laconia, New Hampshire. Ricciardiello has been cultivating  these plants in his own greenhouse for years, just for fun, apparently. Last year he received a Guinness World Record for the world's largest bloom - a breathtaking 10 feet, 2.25 inches tall.

"The blooms are truly spectacular, as is the aroma," John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO, told the Boston Globe. The flower is expected to bloom within the next two weeks; although the exact, awe-inspiring, gag-inducing moment cannot be predicted. Special off-hours viewing periods have been established (early morning viewings from 8:00-9:30 am and evening viewings from 6:00-8:00 pm will be free to the public) and you can even track the flower's development through the Zoos' twitter account (@zoonewengland) to make sure you're there for the magic moment.

Check franklinpark.org, facebook.com/franklinparkzoo, and follow @zoonewengland for details on growth and anticipated viewing times.

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