The vivid orange and yellow cempasúchiles, known as marigolds in English, frequently adorn Día de los Muertos ofrendas. Native to Mexico, the flowers bloom at this time of year just in time for the holiday.

But in Chicago, fresh cempasúchiles can be tough to find for Día de los Muertos. Tito’s Flowers and Gifts owner Blanca Tito, who is of Ecuadorian descent, said she only started selling the fragrant flowers in her Albany Park shop when a Mexican customer inquired about them three years ago.

“When I opened the business, I didn’t know about this kind of flower,” Tito said. “I didn’t know how it was used. They said this is a Mexican tradition. In Mexico, we do the altar and cempasúchiles, and we use to call to people who have died.”

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