7:46am

Tue April 26, 2011
The Two-Way

The Corpse Plant Blooms And Reeks

Lucky visitors to the Hawaii's Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens got the heady, putrid scent of a blooming amorphophallus titanum plant - better known as the Corpse Plant. This weekend, the Honolulu Advertiser says people lined up before doors opened to catch a whiff of the plant during its rare blooming period.

When the plant arrived on April 12, its single flower stood 47 inches tall, (Zoo Manager Pam) Mizuno said. Yesterday the flower had grown to 87 inches high and was emitting an odor "that basically smells like meat that's rotten and has been sitting out for a while," Mizuno said.

The stench attracts carrion beetles who believe it's a decaying body. The Huntington Library and Gardens has one that blossomed last June, and says the plant is at its fullest (and foulest) during the first 12 hours of the bloom, explaining the Pana`ewa visitors haste to sniff while they can.

Can't get to Hawaii? There's another at the Ohio State Greenhouse in Columbus, where biologist Andi Wolfe put together a time lapse image of her department's gorgeous specimen. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.