- (Photo: Reuters/Alyson Zepeda)
The "corpse flower" in Washington's U.S. Botanic Garden blossomed on Monday, attracting over 20,000 visitors with its bizarre scent.
Also known as the titan arum or Amorphophallus titanium, the unique flower is native to tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia and rarely sees towering maroon blooms.
Making it even more unusual, once in bloom, the "corpse flower" emits a stench that is said to be similar to that of rotting flesh. The odor attracts carrion beetles and other insects that serve as pollinators.
Once bloomed, the flower only remains open for a brief 24 to 48 hours before it collapses.
Despite having a total of 14 corpse flowers, the U.S. Botanic Garden saw its first corpse flower blossom in over six years Monday.
Since they do not have an annual blooming cycle, dedicated fans have flocked to garden in Southeast Washington shortly after hearing the news of the massive perennial herb's bloom.
"It's hilarious that all these people are here to smell something awful," said Bill McLaughlin, the garden's curator of plants, to The Los Angeles Times.
The plant flourishes in humid weather and tends to heat up before starting to smell strongly. Then, it usually blooms overnight or in the early morning hours before it tumbles to the ground.
Aside from the U.S. Botanical Garden, only six other establishments in the country have the titan arum among their collections, according to CNN.
In Santa Barbara, Calif., a corpse flower is preparing to bloom in the next week or so at the UCSB Biology Greenhouse, according to a news release by the school.
At the National Botanic Garden of Belgium, the oldest corpse flower was in full bloom earlier this month and saw over 4,000 visitors in just three days.
Meanwhile, titan arums are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and only around 175 blooms have occurred in cultivated species worldwide.