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Giant flower's stench stinks up Bonn

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Giant flower's stench stinks up Bonn
Bonn's Titan arum blooms in 2003. Photo: DPA
16:44 CEST+02:00
The stench of rotting flesh is expected to waft over Germany's former capital this weekend as a stinky giant flower unfurls in the University of Bonn's botanic garden.

University botanists announced on Friday the Titan arum, also known as the "corpse flower," had bloomed for the first time since 2006. Bonn's plant won itself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 after unfolding a blossom 306 centimetres high. It then caused another botany sensation in 2006 after shooting three buds instead of the usual single bloom out of its then-120 kilogramme tuber.

The flower's characteristic stink of rotting meat - noticeable as far as 400 metres away - attracts flies that then spread its pollen.

But visitors who want to smell the 2.12-metre flower, a native of the Sumatran rainforest, should go soon, garden supervisor Markus Radscheit told The Local. The distinctive smell will dissipate once the flower switches genders from female to male late Saturday morning. Switching sexes during the flowering period prevents the plant from self-pollinating, Radscheit said.

"It probably will start smelling late tonight, at approximately 10 pm onward," Radscheit said. "It's when the pollen is ripe."

After blooming in 2006 the flower's tuber split into three, Radscheit said. This year's flower comes from the largest of the tubers - a 78 kilogramme behemoth - and is unusual because the flower usually only blooms every three years.

"We believe because of the sheer size of the tuber it was ripe again to flower," Radscheit said.

The Titan arum is the largest inflorescence in the world, with hundreds of individual flowers inside a casing that resembles a petal. The Bonn botanic garden has had a specimen since 1938.

The botanic garden will open from 9 am to 11 pm all weekend. Fans can also monitor the giant flower via webcam at www.botgart.uni-bonn.de

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