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 National

Blizzard hits the northeast, New York spared its brunt

A man walks out of an ocean front house covered in ice during a winter blizzard in Marshfield, Massachusetts January 27, 2015.

As New York and New Jersey lifted travel bans, Massachusetts braces for more snow.

in National, World

World leaders join last survivors in recalling Auschwitz

Members of Polish Scouting Association from Canada and U.K. place a lit candle at block 15 in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim January 26, 2015.

World leaders joined Auschwitz survivors at the site of the former Nazi death camp to mark 70 years since its liberation by Soviet troops.

in Local

Travel Ban To be Lifted County-By-County

snowstormpic copy

Governor Baker's travel ban will be lifted on a county-by-county basis as conditions allow.

in Local

State Fire Marshall: Be Smart

fireplace

State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan is warning people about the use of wood stoves, fireplaces, and space heaters during a power outage.

in Local

Amherst Woman Killed While Hiking In NH

Dorie Goldman

A well-known Amherst woman has died while hiking in the mountains of New Hampshire.