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Corpse Flower at Houston Museum of Natural Science promises to live up to name

The flower is expected to bloom within days and produce a stench that smells, well, like death.

HOUSTON — Roses are red and violets are blue, but at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a corpse flower named "Meg" is expected, to smell, too.

“I’ve never seen a flower like that," Amia Adams said.

She and her friend, Toni Marshall, visited from out of state.

“I think it’s going to be gorgeous when it opens up," Julie Tibbitts said.

But the corpse flower proves that looks can be deceiving.

"Most flowers, they have a nice smell," Lauren Davidson said.

She manages the Cockrell Butterfly Center and this one lives up to its name.

“The reason that it was called a corpse flower is because it kind of smells like death," Davidson said.

But Meg is very much alive.

"She was at 38 inches, so that's a very large flower,” Davidson said.

And, right now, all signs are pointing to her blooming.

"We're thinking it's going to probably be Tuesday or Wednesday," Davidson said.

The flower's spathe will open and that's when the smell will fill the Butterfly Center.

For now, patrons like Linda McKnight, visiting from Nacogdoches, are leaving that fragrance up to the imagination.

“Pretty pungent and horrifying,” McKnight said.

“It looks like more of like a healthy plant or like a pretty flower that’s getting ready to bloom. it doesn’t look much like a stinky plant though," Marshall said.

That stench though has a purpose.

“Because of the pollinators that it is trying to attract. So the things that are attracted to this flower are not butterflies or bees, but it's mostly actually flesh flies and carrion beetles. so these are insects that go to rotting meat to lay eggs," Davidson said.

And while corpse flowers, which are native to Sumatra, bloom multiple times in their 30 to 40-year life span, each short-lived “florescence” only happens about once every 5 to 10 years.

“We're ramping up for this, but she'll only be blooming for maybe two to three days total,” Davidson said.

For now, all we can do is hold our breath.

“It’s something different to see -- something you won’t see all the time," Chelle Felan said.

To behold the wonder of nature.

“The beauty of it makes the scent go away," McKnight said.

The museum is in its summer hours. For more information, click here.

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