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Colorado State University’s corpse flower bloomed

While the sight is pretty, the smell is not
Visitors snap photos of Cosmo, the blooming corpse flower at the CSU Plant Growth Facilities, on Sunday. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)

Cosmo, Colorado State University’s stinky and rare corpse flower, bloomed for the first time Saturday night.

Hundreds of people lined up Sunday, completely circling the block on the CSU campus that holds the Plant Growth Facilities, to catch a glimpse and a selfie of Cosmo. The rare corpse flower is the largest inflorescence – or collection of flowers acting as one – in the plant kingdom. Most years, corpse flowers only partially bloom, creating a large, stemlike structure before returning to dormancy.

Matthew Winchester, left, and Jessica Hitchings, both of Fort Collins, pose of a selfie with Cosmo. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)
Hundreds of visitors to the CSU Plant Growth Facilities lined up on Sunday for a glimpse of Cosmo. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)

However, this year, Cosmo fully bloomed, a rare occurrence that only happens once every several years. Instead of a tall stem, the plant produces a large red flower bud with a pale stem protruding from the center. While the sight is pretty, the smell is not. For the first 12 hours after bloom, the flower emits a strong smell that has been compared to rotting flesh.

The public is invited to view Cosmo for free from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the CSU Plant Growth Facility Conservatory next to the Monfort Quadrangle in Fort Collins. The facility will be open as long as Cosmo remains in bloom.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people lined up around the block to visit the plant, which by that time was emitting a significantly lesser odor than late Saturday night, said volunteer Sal Greenberg, a graduate student in plant pathology, who was helping visitors asking questions and snapping photos.

Cosmo the blooming corpse flower at the CSU Plant Growth Facilities on Sunday. The instrument at left in the foreground is used to gather and analyze the chemical compounds in the rather putrid smell the flower gives off when it blooms. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)

For patient flower enthusiasts, the next corpse flower bloom is likely to happen at the Denver Botanic Gardens, which cares for two corpse flowers. They last bloomed in 2018 and 2022.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.