Corpse flower blooms, smells like rotting flesh
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It's the world's smelliest flower, aptly named the corpse flower, because it smells like rotting flesh.
Overnight on Thursday, it bloomed for the very first time at San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers where thousands of people have flocked all week long to get a whiff.
Today the line of flower fanatics was out the door.
"You know you look at all these people lined up to smell something that they hope is going to be the worst smell they've ever experienced in their life. It's a phenomenon!" said Blake Gray of San Francisco.
Flowers are normally sweet, but not the amorphophallus titanum.
"It translates to an unshapely phallus and when you come visit her, you'll definitely see where that plays in," said Drew Risner-Davis, the exhibit manager at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.
"It kind of has that rotting meat smell," said Tracy McBride of Berkeley.
"I thought I'd pass out and start vomiting," said Seth Goldstein of Mill Valley.
"I feel like it's something just set there from an alien race for us to marvel at!" exclaimed Risner-Davis.
"It's unlike anything we've seen before!" said Ashley Rogers of Alameda, who traveled with her son to come take a sniff.
Shutterbugs snapped happily away at the curious and captivating flower.
"Oh my, it stinks!" said one boy as he plugged his nose and poses for a photo with the corpse flower sitting serenely yet statuesquely behind him.
"It's definitely quite a rock star, of the plant world, like Mick Jagger!" said Risner-Davis.
The pre-historic looking six foot tall flower quite simply reeks, some say like rotting flesh.
That's because its pollinators aren't bees, but carrion beetles and flesh flies.
"It's very, very endangered," said Risner-Davis. "It's native to Sumatra where we just don't find many of them due to deforestation and habitat loss."
It can take up to 15 years for the corpse flower to bloom and if the conditions are right, it'll bloom once every two to three years making today's unfolding flower—a rarity.
"It was like love at first sight!" said Sidney Price, who donated the plant to the conservatory three years ago. He bought a clipping of a corpse flower years ago at a rare plant sale in Berkeley, then grew it at home.
"It basically was taking over the bathroom. I had to get around it to get into the shower," said Price.
After three years here in the city greenhouse, the flower finally opened for the first time yesterday. It's already starting to close, so if you'd like to see it, Saturday is your last chance.
Fans have been watching its every move live online for days.
The stench of the yellow, green, maroon colored flower peaked at midnight last night.
But plant lovers from as far as Nevada came in droves today, paying six bucks to sniff it out.
"It seems like not a once-in-a-lifetime, but once-in-a-decade experience at least," said Luke Mondello of San Francisco.