Giant, putrid 'corpse flower' blossoms at UW greenhouse

Giant, putrid 'corpse flower' blossoms at UW greenhouse
SEATTLE - Hundreds of people are flocking to get a whiff - and a view - of one of the world's largest and smelliest flowers.

The so-called "corpse flower," which only blooms once every few years, can be seen Thursday and Friday at the University of Washington's botany greenhouse.

The corpse flower's huge bud has been growing for days, and it began blooming Wednesday at about 10 p.m., drawing a large crowd.

When the greenhouse reopened at 8 a.m. Thursday, a long line of people had already formed to see the smelly celebrity flower. The plant last bloomed about 2 1/2 years ago.

The flower can grow 10 feet tall, and produces heat and stink when it blooms to attract carrion beetles and other insects for pollination.

The flower's putrid fragrance, which has been likened to rotting meat, is strongest when the corpse flower first blooms, but it still emits a scent for a day or two afterward.

A UW graduate student, Kelsey Byers, is collecting the flower's scent to analyze what is behind the stench. This is the first time the scent has been collected by scientists.

Visitors to the UW's botany greenhouse are welcome, and even after hours, the flower can be seen through the greenhouse windows.

Public hours at the greenhouse are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The botany greenhouse is next to Kincaid Hall on Stevens Way.