Two months ago the Houston Zoo's African Forest welcomed seven-year-old Pewtunia the Corpse Flower to her new home. Now she is expected to bloom in the next seven to ten days.
Corpse flowers open at their own pace, as Houstonians are quite aware. Last summer, the Houston Museum of Natural Science kept patrons and members of the news media on the run for days upon days with predictions that their corpse flower, Lois, was just about to bloom. (On July 23, 2010 at 3 in the morning, it finally did.) That is why Houston Zoo Horticulture Manager Joe Williams says they are estimating that Pewtunia could open this weekend.
"She will smell like dead, rotted meat," Williams says.
Corpse flowers are the largest unbranched flower and generally bloom for the first time at about seven years of age when they weigh roughly 30 pounds. Pewtunia is a little bit of an early bloomer, weighing in at only 19 pounds, but has been growing drastically in height. She currently stands just under three feet but could reach between four and six feet by the time she blooms.
"She grew four inches in one day last week" Williams says.
Pewtunia is next to Koolookamba Cave, located on the African Forest Walk between the 4-D Experience and the Indoor Chimp Viewing area. It is slightly off a normal path, but this plays to the favor of those who wish to smell Pewtunia in her pungent glory as more people will be able to see and smell her, Williams says.
With a plant that attracts so much attention, you might think Pewtunia was a high-maintenance diva requiring a lot of care. But she's not.
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"Not a whole lot," Williams says.
Zoo horticulturists keep it organically fertilized and water sparingly.
Zoo horticulturists will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day to answer questions about Pewtunia. The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day and located at 6200 Hermann Park Dr.
Pewtunia's bloom is only expected to last between 12 and 24 hours. In order to track Pewtunia's progress, check out the Houston Zoo Web site's home page at www.houstonzoo.org, Twitter @HoustonZoo or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/houstonzoo.