Corpse flower ends its stinky reign

Comment on this story


iol scitech july 24 corpse flower2

AP

The plant's allure is the foul odor it emits, similar to rotting flesh.

Washington - For weeks, gawkers lined up at the US Botanic Garden, hoping to be among the lucky ones to catch the show when a giant-sized corpse flower bloomed for the first time in seven years.

Its legendary stench was part of the attraction. On Sunday afternoon, when the 8-foot-tall (2.4-metre) Titan Arum plant finally began opening its petals, a smell almost strong enough to stop traffic lured tourists inside from the sweltering National Mall.

Since it went on display July 11 as a 4-foot-tall sprig, the corpse flower has attracted over 120 000 visitors, about one-tenth of the garden's annual number in less than two weeks.

It proved to be an unexpected hit during Washington's summer tourist season. For about 48 hours, long lines of visitors tried to inch close enough to get a whiff of a terrible smell that in the natural world attracts carrion eaters like dung beetles and flies.

The Botanic Garden's Laura Condeluci said most of the smell had abated by Tuesday, but the flower had attracted so much attention, it was continuing to draw throngs.

iol scitech july 24 Giant Stinky Flower~1

A Titan Arum, also known as the 'corpse flower' blooms at the US Botanic Garden in Washington.

AP

On social media, the flower - nicknamed Mortimer - chronicled its moments of glory and celebrity visitors on a Twitter feed at @DCTitanArum.

“As of this afternoon, both @DarrellIssa and @jaredpolis will have visited me,” Mortimer tweeted on Tuesday, referring to a California Republican and a Colorado Democrat in the House of Representatives. “I have brought bipartisanship to DC. Almost time to retire.”

Mortimer bloomed on Instagram, with #corpseflower a popular hashtag. There was live streaming video at http://www.usbg.gov/return-titan (“Due to high traffic, you may experience some difficulty with the web stream,” the Botanic Garden warned).

Condeluci said the Titan Arum looks for pollinators in the evening, emitting heat and a smell of rotting flesh as the sun starts to fade. The smell, which dissipates in the daytime, generally lasts 24 to 48 hours.

“The heat helps generate the scent upward ... (so) that something up to maybe a mile away will smell it and come running,” she said by telephone.

“For us, that's fabulous, that people are excited about a plant,” she said. “We think it's spectacular to look at, and a slightly terrible smell. Even if folks can't smell it, it's really dramatic.” - Reuters

Hungry for more scitech news? Sign up for our daily newsletter


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     

Join us on

IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks