Triple pong in Washington

CORPSE FLOWER: Amorphophallus Titanum

A BOTANIC garden on the grounds of the US Capitol Building has experienced a stinky first as a trio of so-called corpse flowers opened and releases an odour likened to the smell of rotting flesh.

According to U.S. Botanic Garden spokesman Ray Mims, the event has marked the first time that three of the giant plants, also known as titan arums, have bloomed close at the same time at a North American institution.

The biggest plant has surged to about 7 feet (2.13 meters) and made its rare opening just for a few hours. The Botanic Garden, at the foot of Capitol Hill, opened later into the evening once the flower bloomed to handle the crowds.

“When you’re above it, you need a gas mask. This is really one of the rock stars of the plant kingdom,” said Todd Brethauer, a volunteer who carries a jar with a sample of the odour to give garden visitors a whiff.

The stench from the opened corpse flower, or Amorphophallus Titanum, has been alluded to a combination of rotting flesh, smelly socks, garlic and dirty nappies. It is a great draw for pollinating carrion beetles and flies.

Corpse flower blooms, once rare, have become more prolific, with seven occurring this summer in the United States alone. The increase resulted from the greater number of flowers in U.S. institutions, including 15 or 16 plants at Washington’s Botanic Garden, Mims said.

“People think flowers are pretty, they smell good. A lot don’t,” said Jim Adams, the Garden’s horticultural manager.  The interior temperature on a fully blooming flower reaches 115 Fahrenheit (46 Celsius), heat that helps spread the smell, Adams said.