Rare corpse flower expected to bloom at San Antonio Zoo in next 10 days

Fewer than 1,000 corpse flowers are estimated to remain in the wild

Earlier this year, the corpse flower was gifted to the Center for Conservation & Research at San Antonio Zoo by The Huntington in California. The Center for Conservation & Research leads and participates in conservation projects across the globe and throughout the United States, with particular emphasis on Texas. (San Antonio Zoo)

SAN ANTONIO – It’s about to get smelly at the San Antonio Zoo thanks to the flora and not the fauna.

An endangered corpse flower is set to bloom at the San Antonio Zoo for the first time ever.

“Get your nostrils ready,” said Tim Morrow, President and CEO of San Antonio Zoo. “Our team estimates the plant could bloom in the next 10 days. This is a rather rare occurrence and a very exciting moment for our community and conservation.”

After the corpse flower blooms, the blossom lasts anywhere from one to four days, zoo officials said.

Corpse flowers can grow to be up to eight feet tall and the plants generate their own heat, which allows the stench to travel even further.

The plants are native to the rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia and can take more than ten years to bloom for the first time.

According to zoo officials, the scent of a corpse flower bloom is very powerful and “reminiscent of a decaying corpse” — hence the name.

More than 30 chemicals contribute to the stench, which attracts carrion beetles and flesh flies that pollinate the flower.

Chemistry behind the corpse flower (San Antonio Zoo)

The flower was gifted to the zoo earlier this year from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in California.

“These plants are very delicate and typically give us signs when they are ready to blossom,” said Dr. Dante Fenolio, VP of Conservation & Research at San Antonio Zoo. “Once we see those indicators, we have around 24 hours until its incredible and rare reveal.”

Visitors will be able to see the corpse flower near the “Back From The Brink” Whooping Crane habitat. Viewing of the corpse flower is free for members and included with standard admission to San Antonio Zoo.

Fewer than 1,000 corpse flowers are estimated to remain in the wild, with a sharp decline in the last century.

Once the flower blooms, San Antonio Zoo will collect pollen and tissue samples for genetic study, comparing them to other corpse flowers. Zoo officials estimate this to be the first known instance of a corpse flower blooming in San Antonio.

If the promise of a rare, stinky flower isn’t enough to get you out in the heat, you can also cash in on a BOGO ticket deal for the zoo. Buy one Adult Standard Admission Ticket online, and get one Child Standard Admission Ticket free when you use promo code BOGO22 at checkout. The deal lasts through July 31.

Check the weather forecast here before you head out this weekend.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.