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

in Local Sports

Escobar’s HR leads Twins’ balanced 8-5 win over Seattle

Fresh
minnesota twins logo

Minnesota took advantage of three Mariners errors and two wild pitches.

in Local Sports

Flames end Canucks season with 7-4 win in Calgary

Fresh
image

The Canucks lost despite having a 3-0 lead midway through the first period.

in Local Sports

Hisashi Iwakuma has strained lat muscle, could be out up to a month

Seattle Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma looks on before a spring exhibition baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Monday, March 24, 2014, in Peoria, Ariz.

The 34-year-old pitcher is 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in 3 starts with Seattle this season.

in Local Sports

WWU Vikings softball takes two at home against Simon Fraser

Western Washington University's softball team beat Saint Martins University 1-0, then lost 7-3 on Saturday, March 15, 2013, at Viking Field in Bellingham, Wash.

Seniors shine in sweep for post-season bound WWU.

in Sports

NHL Playoffs: Islanders beat Capitals 3-1, Red Wings win Game 5, Blackhawks eliminate Predators

Updated
New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano yells at his players during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. The Wild won 5-4.

The Capitals will host the deciding game Monday night.