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It's not often that people wait in line in the hopes of catching a whiff of something that smells like rotting garbage or a dead mouse decomposing in a wall.

Then again, it's not often that a corpse flower blooms. On Sunday, Como Zoo and Conservatory posted that "bloom watch" is on for its corpse flower, a large endangered plant that puts out foul-smelling flowers rarely and on its own schedule. The conservatory first announced a bloom was coming early this month, and staff now believe the event is imminent.

Jen Love, the horticulturist who raised the stinky specimen, said Sunday afternoon that she still was hoping to see a bloom before the weekend was out but that it might not happen until Monday. Because corpse flowers tend to bloom in the late afternoon into evening, she said she'll keep an eye on the livestream until about 8 p.m. Sunday, and then pick it back up Monday.

Hundreds of people waited politely Sunday afternoon in a line that snaked around the conservatory's North Garden for a chance to take in — and take selfies with — the plant, nicknamed "Horace" after Horace Cleveland, who designed many green spaces in the Twin Cities.

The Rygh family from Brainerd swung by the conservatory during a trip to the Twin Cities for one of their boys' soccer tournaments.

"I actually have an associate's degree in horticulture," Jenna Rygh said. "And I was like, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so we have to make a stop. We're heading back to Brainerd today but made the pitstop just to come see the corpse flower."

Rygh said she had been watching the livestream but was still surprised to see how big the plant was in real life.

Corpse flowers get their name from the smell they emit when blooming to attract pollinators — think flies. The putrid smell is "often compared to the stench of rotting flesh," according to the United States Botanic Garden.

When the plant blooms, the frilly, cabbage leaf-looking part (called the spathe) surrounding the plant's spadix (the towering part) will unfurl and the plant will begin to release its stinky smell, which typically lasts about 12 hours, according to Como. Within days, the bloom collapses.

While many plants bloom annually, corpse flowers bloom unpredictably. They store energy in a stem called a corm, blooming only when they've stored enough energy. The process can take a few years to more than a decade, according to the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Horace and another corpse flower corm arrived at Como in 2019. This is Horace's first bloom here. The other plant has yet to bloom.

While these two corpse flowers aren't Como's first, they are the first Love has raised. The process of growing Horace has been suspenseful. The underground corm periodically shoots up a growth, and it can be hard to tell at first whether it's a leaf or a bloom, she said.

"They do this cycle where they put out a leaf and then you don't know how many times it's going to grow a leaf," before it flowers, she said.

Love said it's been great to see the steady stream of people visiting the conservatory to see the plant. In addition to being able to help preserve the endangered plant's genetics, corpse flowers can serve as ambassadors to get people interested in plants, especially endangered ones. Corpse flowers grow only in the wild in Sumatra, where its rainforest habitat has been devastated, Love said.

Como Conservatory is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. If you miss the corpse flower's bloom, you can see a couple of its relatives in the wild in Minnesota: Jack-in-the-pulpit, which grows in woods, and skunk cabbage, which grows in wetlands and also emits a stinky smell, are in the same family, Love said.