Waiting with bated breath: Stinky corpse flower about to bloom in Houston

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by Tiffany Craig / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 11, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 16 at 2:54 PM

HOUSTON -- As of Friday afternoon, people were still waiting to see a rare corpse flower bloom at the Museum of Natural Science.  

Thousands of people have shown up at the museum over the past few days.

Originally, horticulturists Zac Stayton hoped "Lois" would open on Sunday.

Stayton compared the waiting to that of being at a hospital for childbirth.

"She’s telling us she’s ready but we can’t force her," said Stayton.

The museum will stay open round the clock until "Lois" blooms.

Named after a former employee’s mother, Lois has grown to more than five feet and is getting bigger by the hour.

The Amorphophallus titanum, otherwise known as a corpse flower, has only opened 28 times in the entire country’s history. When Lois blooms, it will be only the second time  in Texas.

Maud Lipscomb heard about the rare plant at the museum and showed up to see the bloom.

"It’s almost extinct and we get a chance to see it," said Lipscomb. "So I have to come back."

When in bloom, the flower—native to the Indonesian Island of Sumatra—dazzles the eyes and offends the nose. Visitors to the museum Sunday were excited about both experiences.

"I’d like to see how it looks when it’s in bloom and the smell," said visitor Michael Sony. "I just wanna experience it."

Experts who have seen one of these flowers bloom in the past describe the smell as a combination of cooking cabbage and the stench of a dead rat in the wall. The purpose of the strong odor is to attract pollinating beetles wanting to lay eggs.

Nancy Greig, director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center, is running the exhibit. She said the interest has been through the roof.

"It’s the biggest, the smelliest and it fires people’s imagination. People keep asking ‘when is it gonna open, when is it gonna open?’ We have never experienced this," admitted Greig.

Once Lois does open, her stink will last up to 12 hours. Her beauty, though, will be on display for two days. 

 

Click here to see a live stream of Lois as she tries to bloom. The website is getting so much traffic that the stream might be down intermittently. Check back later if you don't get through the first time.

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