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Corpse Plant Blooms; Lives Up to its Name

Thousands flocked to Nathanael-Greene/Close Memorial Park over the weekend to see a rare blooming corpse plant. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more...

Over the weekend it happened...what several hundred people in Southwest Missouri had been anticipating...the corpse plant bloomed.Its owner Bill Roston had been babysitting his tuber for several days at the community center at Nathanael-Greene/Close Memorial Park. Friday night, when Roston closed up, his plant showed no sign of beginning to bloom. But Saturday morning was a different story...

"When I walked in the door, I knew immediately that it was opened up." "You could smell it..." "Oh, yes."

The plant is accurately named. When blooming, it emits an odor of rotting flesh. That attracts carrion beetles, which, in the rainforests of Sumatra where the plant grows, pollinate the tuber...

"It really acts a little bit like an animal." (laughs)

Roston’s corpse plant, which he bought at 35 pounds off of E-Bay, smelled pretty awful. But he says it’s nothing compared to 200 pound corpse plants, which emit a much stronger smell. It will likely take several years for Roston’s plant to reach that size. Tubers can live 40 to 50 years and his is six to seven years old.The blooming of the corpse plant attracted lots of people. Roston estimates around 2500 people had been in to see it Saturday by late afternoon. Their reactions varied...

"Ew, gross, ew." "It wasn't like I thought it would be. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." "It smells like dead animals." "It's disgusting. Disgusting."

Kellie Herman of Springfield made plans Saturday to see the corpse plant in bloom...

"I think it smells like rotting flesh on the side of a hot summer day road."

Kathleen Bullock of Springfield had a different response...

"I don't think it smells bad, but they said it was smelling worse this morning." "You didn't think it smelled bad?" "No." (laughs) "You're probably one of the few exceptions." "I guess so. Maybe I've smelled a lot of bad things in my life." (laughs)

Roston says this was only the 2nd corpse plant to bloom in Missouri, and it may be another ten years before it blooms again. If you didn’t get to see the plant blooming Saturday, it’s too late...Roston says the bloom lasts only 12 to 14 hours.