Excitement has been buzzing around the Zoo the last 10 days and it’s not because of an animal. A little while ago, the Zoo’s corpse flower showed signs of preparing to bloom! Horticulture staff jumped to work, bringing the flower from its usual off-exhibit greenhouse down to the main Zoo near Daniel Maltz Rhino Reserve.
Named “Cronus,” the Zoo’s corpse flower hit full bloom late Wednesday, July 27. The Zoo opened early for eager guests to see this rare bloom.
Keep reading for five things to know about the corpse flower…
With only 1,000 remaining in the wild, the corpse flower (Titan Arum) is one of the rarest plants in the world. Its bloom is equally rare — typically blooming only once every seven to ten years.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s corpse flower is 28 years-old and has bloomed five times: 2007, 2010, 2012, 2019 and 2022.
The corpse flower, which shares its home with orangutans, is the largest flowering structure in nature, and is listed as endangered due to habitat loss from logging and conversion of forests to palm oil plantations.
There is a tradition to giving a name to individual plants. Ours was given the name “Cronus” when it arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 1994 from the Baltimore Aquarium. “Cronus” stays at one of our greenhouse facilities when it is dormant or in a leaf cycle. It usually stays outdoors in a shaded area in the summer and comes into the greenhouse in the winter.
It produces the largest, unbranched inflorescence (structure containing multiple flowers) in the world. One of the largest ever recorded was over 10 feet tall. The inflorescence is made up of the spathe and spadix (contains hundreds of tiny male and female flowers).
“Cronus” measures 56.5” tall this time during the 2022 bloom.
The leaf “Cronus” produces is usually 10-12’ tall and wide.
Once bloomed, the corpse flower is only open for 24-48 hours.
We never know the exact date the flower will open, but there will be signs indicating the blooming will occur soon. One of the indicators is the growth rate slows down. “Cronus” was growing at 3-4” per day and then slowed to 1-2” per day as blooming neared.
It's always an exciting time as staff to see Clevelanders get excited about a plant. Eager guests line up for hours just to see "Cronus" in person!
The flower uses the stench of rotting flesh to attract carrion beetles and flesh flies. (Quite appropriately named corpse flower, don’t you think?)
When the flower blooms, it produces its own heat to help spread its scent to attract even more pollinators.
Information in this blog is courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's horticulture department.