HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a plant that's about five feet tall and known by the scientific name Amorphophallus titanum. But it's better-known by it's nickname, the "corpse flower." And it drew hundreds of people to the Foster Botanical Garden when it bloomed Wednesday, and not because it smells good.
Garden officials said more than 500 people visited, with just about all of them coming just to see -- and smell -- the corpse flower, which is supposed to smell like rotting flesh.
The flower at Foster Botanical Garden doesn't have that strong of a smell, but those who stuck their nose in it didn't have nice things to say.
"It's hard to describe exactly what the scent is, except to say it's bad," said visitor Gussie Bento, after getting an up-close sniff. "But it's a very beautiful flower. I just think it's gorgeous."
Another visitor, Cynthia Rickard of Hilo, sniffed the flower and said it reminded her of her refrigerator, "Like when I haven't cleaned (it) in a long time." She sniffed again. "It's actually not as powerful as I thought it would be, but maybe I have a bad refrigerator," she added, laughing.
There's a reason why the flower smells so bad. "That's what's going to attract the carrion beetles that act as pollinators to this flower. And that's why the stench," said Honolulu Botanicals Garden orchid horticulturalist Scot Mitamura. He also said the red color of the blossom is supposed to mimic red, rotting flesh.
Mitamura said the flower was planted ten years ago and finally bloomed at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. The bloom and the smell won't last that long, and the flower may begin to wilt Thursday and be dead Friday. After that happens, it will be another three to five years before another flower emerges to emit another foul odor to attract carrion beetles -- and crowds.