A towering plant that smells like rotting meat and is native to the Indonesian rainforest was in full bloom in the US capital on Monday drawing throngs of tourists. The titan arum, among the world’s largest plants, began blooming on Sunday at the United States Botanic Garden, and its petals are expected to stay open for just 48 hours. Curator of plants Bill McLaughlin said he first noticed the smell at around 6 pm on Sunday.
“I felt a little queasy for awhile and I wasn’t able to eat really until about 11 pm last night, after a few hours of air,” he says. At first, the plant gave off heat he could sense with his hand and the smell shot straight up in the air, he said. After that, an odour bearing heavy notes of roadkill “sort of curls back down, taps you on the shoulder and you look around for something dead,” he says.
The flower is eight feet (2.4 metres) tall and smells of decomposing flesh in order to attract pollinators like carrion beetles and dung beetles. Its blooming is unpredictable, andmay happen every few years or every few decades.The plant was first discovered in 1878 and the last time one bloomed at the US Botanic Garden was in 2007.