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It Smells Of Rotten Flesh: Massive Corpse Flower Draws Large Crowds

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PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ)—It’s the planet’s biggest, worst smelling flower. With a scent like rotting flesh, the corpse flower rarely blooms.

Alex DeMetrick reports that’s brought thousands to Washington to see and sniff the plant.

It may not look it, but this is technically a flower—all eight feet of it.

Found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, the corpse flower brought 22,000 people to the US Botanic Garden Conservatory on the Washington Mall when it bloomed Monday. Because it takes years to bloom and lasts only a day or so before collapsing, more crowds lined up Tuesday for a look.

“Oh, I think it’s beautiful. It’s unique,” said one woman.

“It looks like something from an earlier era, you know, a prehistoric era or something like that,” said Bob Gallagher.

“But what really gets people on this plant is that it smells just absolutely terrible for a short amount of time when it first comes into flower,” said Ari Novy, Botanic Garden Conservatory.

It smells like rotting flesh in order to draw pollinating insects.

“Especially beetles and some flies that like the smell of rotting flesh,” Novy said.

“I expected more of a noxious smell. I really don’t get that,” Gallagher said.

Because the corpse flower has already peaked, it’s not as potent as it has been.

“As crazy it sounds, I’m a little disappointed I can’t smell the funk anymore,” said Inez Adams.

There’s hope this plant will someday bloom again but there’s no guarantee.

“After a plant flowers, the plant is at its weakest and is subject to the most potential for death, especially bacterial infection,” Novy said.

So gather ye corpse flowers while ye may. The next chance to pose with one will take years.

It took the corpse flower in DC eight years to produce its first bloom.

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