Monday, November 21, 2005

in this troubled era...

...take time to stop and throw up on the roses!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Its scent has drawn comparisons to garbage and spoiled meat, but that isn't stopping crowds from flocking to see -- and smell -- an unusual plant in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The Titan Arum plant bloom at most every 5 years. This specimen, one of only 12 in the USA, is blooming for the first time in it's 14 years of life. And boy, does it stink! "It's quite spectacular: the color and the form and the strong odor," said John Kress, chairman of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's botany department, which owns the plant. "I think that's what most people come to see. Or smell." The long, conical bloom of the titan arum is believed to be the largest flower that doesn't grow on a tree. It has been known to grow 12 feet high in its native habitat on the island of Sumatra. The specimen at the botanic garden, which began blooming early Sunday, is about 5 feet high.
Now that it's in bloom, the plant has also started emitting a smell that's drawn comparisons to garbage, spoiled meat, and rotting fish. But the plant's stench is actually the key to its survival: carrion beetles and other pollinators in its native Sumatra are attracted to the smell, Kress said.
"These beetles usually lay their eggs in rotting animals, so this plant pretends to be a dead animal," he said.
The smell also seems to be attracting visitors to the botanic garden. About 2,000 people had come to the garden to see the plant by Sunday afternoon, and at least 10,000 were expected by day's end. Garden visitor Charles Miehm said he came to see the plant because it seemed like a rare opportunity.
"It's not as rancid as roadkill, but it's got a pretty potent smell," he said. And he would know, that dirty little roadkill eater!


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