‘Corpse flower’ attracts thousands to D.C.

WASHINGTON — It seems a more fitting subject for an Edgar Allan Poe story: a towering maroon blossom that emits the odor of rotting flesh.

Up to 20,000 visitors packed the U.S. Botanic Garden on Monday to catch a whiff of the rare titan arum bloom, also known as the corpse flower, before the short-lived flowering ends.

Found in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, the titan arum takes years to bloom, but its inflorescence, one of the largest in the world, remains open for only 24 to 48 hours. The powerful odor serves to attract carrion beetles and other insects for pollination.

While the U.S. Botanic Garden has 14 corpse flowers, this is the first to bloom since 2007.

Botanists and the public were anticipating the Washington event for a week before the plant finally bloomed Sunday evening. During that time, more than 400,000 viewers logged on to a webcam monitoring the plant’s progress.

Bill McLaughlin, the garden’s curator of plants, heard that the titan arum was about to bloom Sunday and arrived just in time to see it open around 6 p.m.

Crowds converged on the garden Monday, forming a line that wove slowly through the shrubbery. Many visitors wore suits or high heels as they stole away from work for a quick peek.

Though it smelled sweet at first, McLaughlin said, the stench soon “began descending from the roof, like a pile of dead animals.”

“It’s hilarious that all these people are here to smell something awful,” he said.

—-

&Copy;2013 Tribune Co.

Visit Tribune Co. at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

More in Local News

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

In adult court, four teens plead not guilty to murder

Prosecutors allege they worked together to plan and execute a drug robbery in Everett.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving while the influence and hit-and-run.

Front Porch

SCHOOL’S OUT Local libraries have a lot happening to keep students occupied… Continue reading

Most Read