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Environment & Climate Change

A rare bloom is expected to cause a big stink in East Lansing this week

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people are expected to be drawn like flies to see and smell a reeking flower in East Lansing this week. 

“The Latin name for this plant is Amorphophallus Titanium,” says Peter Carrington, assistant curator of MSU’s Beal Botanical Garden, “which gloriously translates into "the very huge misshapen penis.”

It’s also known as the "corpse flower." It's a native of Sumatra. The five-foot-tall plant rarely blooms, maybe once a decade usually, but when it does it has a smell to behold. 

It’s expected to unleash its stench this week on the Michigan State University campus.

Peter Carrington says the flower emits a strong smell, similar to rotting flesh. And Carrington says the similarity doesn’t end there.

“When the flower reaches maturity, it will be the color of meat, more or less, and it will fold open,” says Carrington.

Carrington says, in the wild, the odor attracts flies and beetles to pollinate the plant.

The last time MSU's corpse flower bloomed was five years ago.