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BU Campus Gets a Little Smelly as Corpse Flower Blooms

(Source: Kate Thornton)

You know the saying, "stop and smell the roses"?  The Amorphophallus titanum, as known as the Corpse Flower, had people stopping, but the moving on as quickly as they can.

"The smell is not good, but the flower is beautiful," said Binghamton resident Fernado Guzman as he described the flower.

After showing signs of blooming for about a week, the flower, appropriately called the Corpse Flower, has officially bloomed Thursday.  The odor the flower produces is definitely a memorable trademark.

"It smells like a nice mix of dirty diapers and rotting pizza," said Vestal resident Jennifer Morrow.

"It smells like cabbage to me, and maybe some old garbage," said Binghamton University student Elizabeth Paratore.

"I didn't know what to expect, but I knew it was supposed to be bad.  I almost changed my mind," said Binghamton University professor Marcus Burger.

The flower stands at a record height of 73 inches with an odor to match.  But, that stench serves a purpose, to attract flies and beetles to pollinate it.

"It sends that scent out great distances, especially out in the jungles where it's native to so that pollinators like the flies that you see can come to it," said Binghamton University Greenhouse Manager Laurie Bell.

People from all over came to the Binghamton University Greenhouse to get whiff of the flower, because it could be years before they have a chance again.  The last time the flower bloomed was three years ago.

"If its pattern continues, it may be sooner than we think.  But, I'd like to see it grow a little bit more than 2 1/2 years next time," said Bell.

For some, like Guzman and Paratore, seeing the plan once just wasn't enough.  When the flower was in bloom last time three years ago, both Guzman and Paratore said they missed the peak by a couple of hours, and were thrilled to see it in full bloom this time around.

"It was already starting to droop not even 12 hours after it already bloomed last time.  So I was a little disappointed.. but I'm excited and glad I got to see it," said Paratore.

If anyone missed it Thursday night, the greenhouse will be open Friday to the public to view the Corpse Flower.  The flower may start to wilt a little bit, but the smell will still be in full force.

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