Does the stench from a corpse flower live up to its namesake? A couple of Twin Cities morticians stood in line at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory to find out.

Angela Woosley and Angelica Napoli were among the hundreds of people who flocked to see "Horace" the corpse flower when its long-awaited bloom finally came Thursday in St. Paul.

"I wanted to come here not only to experience a corpse flower blooming for the first time," Woosley said. "But to confirm or deny if he smells like corpses."

The flower had kept spectators guessing for days after Como posted on social media that it could unfurl as early as Sunday. As it began to bloom in earnest Thursday, so, too, did a line of spectators. By midafternoon, the queue to see Horace snaked outside and partway around the conservatory. Many reported waiting around two hours.

Horticulturist Jen Love, the plant's primary caretaker, said it's atypical for a corpse flower to take so long to bloom. She said the bloom process for corpse flowers is sensitive to light, so it's usually easy to pinpoint timing. But, Love said, this plant may have been thrown off by lights illuminating it overnight earlier in the week.

Corpse flowers are endangered and only grow in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The malodorous monster of a plant — Horace is more than 4 feet tall — gets its name from the smell it emits when it blooms, a feature that attracts pollinators, like the swarm of flies that buzzed around it Thursday afternoon.

The central part of the plant heats up to disseminate the odor, which lasts about 12 hours, and the bloom eventually collapses.

Horace and another corpse flower have been at Como since 2019. This is the first time either has bloomed. The conservatory previously had other corpse flowers.

Having finally gotten a whiff of Horace in bloom, Love said the stench, which wafted out of the North Garden and into an adjoining room of the conservatory, was hard to put a finger on.

"It sort of reminds you of a lot of different really bad smells," she said. "I think there's a little bit of, similar to if you have a dead mouse in your wall, but also some really funky cheese."

Others had similar reactions.

"It smells like sauerkraut that's gone bad," said Trevor Throntveit, who said he has eaten stranger things.

"Hot garbage," said Dan Huynh.

"ICKY!" shouted a chorus of young kids on a field trip from Legacy Christian Academy in Andover. They agreed it was the stinkiest plant they had ever smelled.

And the verdict from the morticians?

While they agreed Horace's smell had many of the same notes as a corpse, Napoli said: "There's a sweetness that's missing. It's very dirty feet."

Como Conservatory logged 20,246 visitors Thursday — more than four times the 4,600 it typically sees on an average Thursday before Memorial Day, spokesperson Matt Reinartz said in an email.

Horace and another corpse flower have been at Como since 2019. This is the first time either has bloomed. The conservatory previously had other corpse flower plants.

If you go

By Friday morning, the corpse flower had closed back up. Como's website said it would remain on display through Friday.

The conservatory is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.