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 Sports

‘Deflategate’ judge to rule soon after Brady, NFL talks fail

tombrady

The National Football League and its players union failed to reach a settlement in their dispute over New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension despite weeks of talks.

in Entertainment, Sports

Hulk Hogan begs forgiveness, wants back in WWE

22-overlay16

The wrestling icon is pleading with fans for their forgiveness after he was caught on tape using a racial slur, insisting the controversial comments were made at the "lowest point" of his life.

in Sports

Ronda Rousey wants you to have a ‘knockout’ breakfast

20-overlay15

The MMA champion has teamed up with fast-food chain Carl's Jr. to pitch their latest breakfast creation.

in Music

Want to buy Pink Floyd’s flying pig? Too late

pigs

Algie the flying pig is no longer up for sale -- going back to the band instead.

in Sports

U.S. Open leading men cheering for a Serena Grand Slam

Serena Williams is on the brink of the grandest achievement in tennis, the single season Grand Slam, and even the leading men at the U.S. Open championships starting on Monday are in her corner.