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What a stinker! World’s smelliest flower opens for the first time in a DECADE

For botanists, it doesn’t get more exciting than this – after 75 years, the Titan Arum plant has unfurled its leaves and is in full bloom.

For curious crowds who gathered, they perhaps realised that a once-in-a-lifetime look is more than enough – thanks to its pungent odour of rotting flesh.

The flower, nicknamed ‘Corpse flower’, bloomed late on Good Friday at the University of Basel, Switzerland and is expected to remain open until Easter Sunday.

Miracle-Gro: The flower opened for the first time in 75 years on Friday, April 22, 2011

The eight foot plant, which is indigenous to Sumatra’s rainforests in Indonesia, has the largest unbranched shoot in the world. On average, they bloom once in a decade.

Titan Arum is coveted by collectors and plant enthusiasts around the world because of its strange blooming patterns.

Once in a lifetime: Crowds capture Titan Arum in bloom at the University of Basel, Switzerland

It produces umbrella-sized petals which open to a diameter of three to four feet.

Its distinctive smell can be detected from half a mile away. The odour, which is usually strongest at night, is meant to attract pollinators such as carrion beetles and flesh flies.

Rare sighting: Botanists love the plant because it blooms so infrequently – despite the smell of rotting flesh

Twelve of them are housed at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the Princess of Wales Conservatory among hundreds of other tropical plants.

When the plants are ready to pollinate, the stem heats up to release a pungent smell, which lasts for about three days.

Beauty: The plant originates from Sumatra in Indonesia

The largest Arum at Kew gardens weighs 200lb and grows at a staggering rate of a quarter of an inch an hour.

It guzzles liquid fertiliser and potassium each week to keep up its strength while bedded in roomy surroundings.

Captivating: Crowds gather as the plant prepares to open its leaves

Sir David Attenborough, who invented the name Titan Arum, was the first to capture it flowering on film for his BBC TV series The Private Life of Plants.

He dropped the plant’s original name – Amorphophallus – perhaps because of the reference to male genitalia.

Can anyone say, “Little Shop of Horrors?”

Last updated at 1:55 AM on 24th April 2011

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