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Take a whiff: Stinky 'corpse flower' blooms at U of M

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People are lining up at the University of Minnesota to get a whiff of a flower that smells like rotting meat.

The rare "corpse flower" at the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences Conservatory bloomed Monday for the first time in seven years.

The plant, called Amorphophallus titanum, is more commonly known as the "corpse flower" for the way it smells when it blooms, the university says. Because they bloom so rarely – and only for 24 to 48 hours – the flower often attracts a large crowd.

BringMeTheNews talked with some people who went to smell the stinky 60-inch tall plant Monday afternoon:

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Some said they couldn't really smell it, but others with more sensitive noses caught a whiff of its stench, comparing it to "rotting meat" or "dirty feet."

Conservatory Curator Lisa Aston Philander said in a news release the "corpse flower" is a thermogenic plant that warms itself, which allows the odor to “volatilize” – the warmer it gets, the more stinky it is.

“And the scent changes over the estimated 48 hours that the plant is in bloom,” Philander says.

Twitter user Dave St. Paul tweeted about the flower, saying it smelled like a "dead rat" Sunday night, and on Monday it smelled like "you boiled cabbage yesterday and left the cooking water on the stove."

The University of Minnesota has a live-stream of the flower (watch it here) and a time-lapse video of it blooming:

[vimeo 154650822 w="500" h="281"]

The Star Tribune reports the flower's bloom had to be helped along a bit. Staff members at the conservatory coaxed the flower with pollen to create more of a robust bloom, the paper says.

The conservatory, located at 1534 Lindig St. on the St. Paul campus, will be open until 9 p.m. Monday, and reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Click here for more information.

Why does it smell?

The “corpse flower” is native to Sumatra’s equatorial rain forests, and it uses its strong smell to “cut through the riot of scents” competing for the sweat bee, which pollinates the flower.

The bees can smell the plant from miles away.

After it blooms, it goes back to being dormant until it's ready to bloom again – which can be several years.

Read more about the "corpse flower" here.

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