Popularly called “corpse flower” because it smells worse than a putrefying human corpse, over 10,000 Australians flocked to the Mount Lofty botanic gardens outside Adelaide to see and smell the Amorphophallus titanium, given the name Titan arum by Sir David Attenborough in 1994.
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According to The Guardian, the extremely rare flower is originally from the Sumatran rainforest and takes 10 years to grow and reach a height of 3 meters. The smelly flower starts to give off its malodorous smell when it flowers, by which the plant with the appearance of a giant ear of corn remains unfolded for a couple of days in all its putrid glory before collapsing into a smelly heap.
Matt Coulter, the horticultural curator at the botanical garden said he did not expect as many people to turn up at the garden and reach over 10,000 within 2 hours, adding no one would expect people to really be curious to see a smelly flower – but then maybe because seeing and smelling it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It smells mostly at night time, but it still smells pretty bad in here at the moment – sort of like sulphuric gas or rotting fish,” Coulter said. “When I opened the glasshouse this morning it almost blew me away it is so strong. Incredible, I almost had to stop myself from throwing up it was so bad. Until you have actually experienced it – it is the first time I’ve actually smelled it – it’s like nothing else.”
The specimen that people have come to see and smell at the botanical garden was grown from a seed donated to the garden in 2006, and the expertise and dedication of the gardens helped it to grow and flower – according to Janice Goodwins, acting director of the Botanic Gardens of South Australia.
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People were able to know about the plant because staff at the garden posted daily updates about the flower and its possibility to open up and start giving off its distinctive smells on social media for the past 11 days.