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‘Corpse flower’ makes a stink, draws a crowd

April 26, 2011
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Visitors to a Hilo zoo showed up early on Easter Sunday to get a whiff of a unique flower that smells like rotting flesh.

The "corpse flower" drew hundreds of visitors to Hilo's Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens.

"People were waiting for me in the parking lot when I opened the gate," said zoo complex manager Pam Mizuno.

People lined up before the gate opened at 9 a.m. to get a whiff of the flower officially known as Amorphophallus titanum.

The 9-year-old flower is on loan from a Hilo man who wishes to remain anonymous. It started emitting the smell Saturday.

Mizuno described the odor as "meat that's rotten and has been sitting out for a while."

It has grown 40 inches since it arrived about two weeks ago and now stands at 87 inches.

In its Indonesian homeland of Sumatra, the corpse flower infrequently emits its smell to attract carrion beetles to what they believe is rotting flesh, Mizuno said.

The beetles move from one Amorphophallus titanum to the next, pollinating them in the process.

But without other corpse flowers or carrion beetles in Hilo, a University of Hawaii-Hilo botanist pollinated the Amorphophallus titanum with pollen imported from New York.



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