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The Bizarre Beauty of the Corpse Flower


A rare corpse flower will bloom in upstate New York. True to its name, the plant is expected to unleash a stench like rotting flesh.

Affectionately called "Wee Stinky," this corpse flower lives in a greenhouse at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Horticulturists at the school, who have been preparing for the plant to bloom for weeks, say it could open up any day now. Those curious can watch the rare spectacle online, mercifully, without the smell.

The species, also known as titan arum, is found in the rain forests of central Sumatra. The plant's bloom is just as short as it is pungent; corpse flowers only remain open for 24 to 48 hours before they wither away.


The smell of death

Wee Stinky had been dormant for more than two years, but last month, it became clear that the plant was ready to bloom again. It's hard to predict the exact day a titan arum will bloom, but Cornell's experts wrote that Wee Stinky's growth will slow and its outer layers will start to peel away right before it opens. To provide a sense of what this year's brief bloom might look like, Cornell has put together a time-lapse video of the first  and last flowering of Wee Stinky.

 VIdeo xxxx

The open bloom may look like a single giant flower, but technically, it isn't. The plant's purple "petals" actually make up an outer skirt called a spathe, and the tube like spike at its center is called a spadix. These structures have thousands of little flowers called an inflorescence.

Smelling like death actually helps this plant species survive. The fetid stench lures important pollinators like flesh-eating beetles and flies. The spadix heats up at the beginning of the bloom — becoming as warm as a human body — to help spread the odor.

Not all flowers smell nice,

This prehistoric looking flower is certainly no exception.

Source: livescience.com xxxxx

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