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Monday, June 30, 2014

Rare, Stinky "Corpse Flower" Blooms, Garden Stays Open Late for Special Smellings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM

It's weird looking and smells bad. What a flower! - MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN

A flower that blooms only once every few years to emit a smell like death's dirty socks just opened its lettucelike petals at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Garden staff and stinky-flower enthusiasts have been waiting patiently all weekend for the Amorphophallus titanum to unfurl for the first time since 2012. It finally unfurled Monday afternoon.

Since the flower's rather unfloral smell only lasts less than a day, Missouri Botanical Garden has extended its Monday hours. Visitors can smell the stench at a special evening viewing from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Last entry is 1:30 a.m.) through the Linnean Plaza gates to the east of the garden's main visitor entrance.

See also: Foul-Stinking Flower Blooms at UMSL

The Missouri Botanical Garden has eight of the Indonesian plants, also known as titan arum or the corpse flower, but only been three flowers have bloomed in the last two years. Worldwide, scientists have recorded fewer than 160 blooms total in the 120 years since discovering the plant.

The titan arum uses its off-putting scent to attract the flies and carrion-eating beetles that pollinate it. The blooms can grow more than six feet tall and three feet wide. Only a few U.S. gardens keep them, including the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory in Washington, D.C., and the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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