Saturday, August 18, 2001

Stink in the air as plant finally blooms

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It took longer than expected, but Krohn Conservatory's mescal bacanora (stinky plant) is finally in bloom.

        The Mexican cactuslike plant, used to make tequila, blooms once every 20 to 30 years, and then dies. For most of its life it's a squat 5-feet. When it comes time to bloom, it has a growth spurt that takes it to 25 feet, said Roni Adkins, the florist in charge of Krohn's cactus room.

[photo] The stinky plant extends through the Krohn Conservatory roof blooming for its only time.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Krohn's plant grew so tall that staffers had to remove roof panels June 13 to accommodate it. They expected blooms within a few weeks. They've been waiting ever since.

        Blooms happened two days ago, about 18 feet up the main stalk.

        “The way it blooms,” Ms. Adkins said, “is buds at the base open first. Then they open higher and higher on the stalk. It's two-thirds from the top.”

        It's known as a stinky plant because blooms smell like rotten meat to attract the bats that pollinate it.

        But not this one. “It's more like rotting fruit,” Ms. Adkins said, “sort of sweet, not pleasant — like a cantaloupe about three days too old. You only get a slight scent on the ground.”

        The blooming will continue until mid-October, then the plant will be cut down.

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