Putrella the giant corpse flower is in bloom, oozing the foul smell she’s known for with particular fervour.
“She’s our rock star plant,” said Muttart Conservatory program manager Alex Hamilton. “This (bloom) in my opinion is the smelliest.”
The Muttart Conservatory announced Saturday morning that Putrella — a Titan arum, known for its distinctive smell sometimes compared to that of a rotting corpse — has bloomed and should remain open for the next 48 hours.
Hamilton said he doesn’t know why the smell, which can travel up to 30 metres, has been especially funky. It’s Putrella’s third bloom since 2013.
“She’s been very kind to us over the years,” Hamilton said, noting that the bloom is the plant’s smallest at 1.8 metres.
“Like a birth, we were anticipating this, we were prepared for it, but we didn’t know when it would happen,” he added. “It’s all hands on deck.”
The conservatory expects more than 5,000 visitors to descend on the flower to experience the nose-wrinkling stench, which is part of the plant’s natural cycle to encourage cross-pollination.
“It emits the smell of rotting meat to attract carrion beetles,” Hamilton explained. “It’s trying to attract pollinators.”
The bloom will last between two and four days, with the smell at its strongest at when it first opened. Plants can reach more than three metres in height during a bloom.
Crowds of people gather round the smelly corpse flower, which bloomed last night in the tropical pavillion at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, April 29, 2017
In a line outside Putrella’s cozy tropical home, Gingie Welsh said she kept track of the conservatory’s updates on Facebook so that she wouldn’t miss the event.
“We’ve never seen it,” she said, standing with her two-year-old daughter.
“I had someone describe it as a bag of hot diapers,” added her partner Sean Rivalin, laughing. “I don’t know why I’m here after that description.”
Hamilton said there have been fewer than 200 corpse flower blooms recorded in conservatories around the world.
“It does put us on that stage with major conservatories around the world,” he said.
The plant, native to Sumatra, Indonesia, usually grows under a thick jungle canopy. But in Edmonton, Putrella, who is believed to be around 14 years old, is treated to ideal conditions.
“We’ve got this bright open area. The flower is getting sunlight basically year round.
“We believe that it’s blooming so often because we control the environment.”
Standing beside Putrella, visitor Paul Dauphinais leans in to take a whiff of the plant.
“I thought the smell would be stronger to be honest,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a rare occurrence.”