August 7, 2008

Thousands Line Up To See The Odorous Corpse Flower

Botanical enthusiasts are excited to celebrate the blooming of one of the world's largest flowers; however, this phallic plant is most known for its excruciatingly awful smell.

Large crowds are gathering at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium on the outskirts of Brussels in order to glimpse the Amorphophallus Titanum, which literally means "the giant strangely shaped penis".

Gert Auloos, head of education at the garden, said the rare phallus-like flower that springs from the plant only survives about 72 hours and its timing is completely unpredictable.

Auloos called it "a botanical superstar". "It's there for a short time, it's glamorous, it's big, it produces something special ... its star quality."

Known by its more appropriate handle, the Corpse Flower, it releases a strong smell to attract pollinators, thought to be sweat bees.

On Thursday, thousands waited in line to see"”and smell"”the 1.6 meter tall specimen.

Many spectators likened the smell to rotten fish, others to rotten meat or old cheese.

"It smells like a mix of rotten fish and rotten meat. It's quite impressive!" said visitor Frederic Lebreux.

"I don't know, maybe like a Camembert," said Rachel Kaiembe.

The corpse flower was first discovered in 1878 in western Sumatra, the plant was first cultivated in Europe at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, in London in 1889. Because of its appearance, Victorian women were kept from viewing it.


Image Caption: Amorphophallus titanum. Courtesy US Botanic Garden (Wikipedia)


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