News

‘Corpse’ flowers causing a blooming stink

‘Corpse’ flowers causing a blooming stink

IT BLOOMING STINKS IN HERE: Visitors view the blooming of a five-foot-tall "corpse" flower at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida June 21, in this picture provided by the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Photo: Reuters

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) – The blossoming of twin “corpse” flowers, whose towering, phallic-shaped blooms reek of rotten flesh, is drawing tourists like flies to what experts are calling a lunar eclipse of the botany world.

It is unusual to see one of these endangered titans bloom in its native Indonesia, much less in captivity, and two are putting on a show within days of each other at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.

The creamy yellow flower – actually a stalk called an inflorescence containing thousands of flowers – extends up to 10 feet (3 meters) and emits a stench like decomposing flesh to lure pollinating flies and beetles. The excitement lasts for just 48 hours before it closes, usually not to be seen again for years.

“I always warn people not to eat lunch before they come see it because they are not going to keep it down,” said Angel Lara, greenhouse manager at Selby Gardens, located on Florida’s west coast. “Everything about this thing is large and in charge.”

At botanical gardens across North America, a typical year may see four Amorphophallus titanum plants bloom, Lara said. Earlier this spring, Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, Hawaii, also expected multiple blooms in rapid succession. Lara said the appearance of a signature corpse bloom is to gardening aficionados as exciting as the periodic lunar eclipse.

In Florida, the titan nicknamed Seymour surprised Selby Gardens by rapidly opening Friday morning, ahead of its expected schedule. Nearly 2,000 visitors came during the weekend to goggle at its 6 feet of putrid glory, four times normal attendance.

Sibling Audrey – also named after a character in “Little Shop of Horrors,” a musical comedy about a blood-thirsty plant – is expected to follow suit in eight to 10 days.

In daily Facebook updates, Selby Gardens said Audrey grew 4 inches overnight and now stands 4 feet tall. Gardeners plan to inseminate her with pollen harvested from Seymour in the hopes of seeding offspring.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

Recent Headlines

1 hour ago in National

Senate to vote on hitting North Korea with tougher sanctions

Fresh
northkorea

The Senate is considering legislation to hit North Korea with more stringent sanctions.

2 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Bad Boys 3’ is happening

willsmithmartin

Will Smith has promised fans "Bad Boys 3" will happen after meeting up with co-star Martin Lawrence for the first time in two years.

3 hours ago in Sports

NASCAR changes to franchise model

nascar

NASCAR has announced a dramatic overhaul of its business model, shifting to a franchise-like system that is intended to provide actual value and financial stability to team owners.

3 hours ago in Sports

It’s now Professor Selig

budselig

The former baseball commissioner has a new gig.

3 hours ago in Sports

Denver streets run orange to welcome Super Bowl-winning Broncos

12-overlay-9

Hundreds of thousands of cheering, orange-clad Denver Broncos fans lined the city's streets on Tuesday for a parade and rally to welcome home the team after their upset victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.