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Kew Gardens Corpse Flower Set to Blow

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A wretchedly spectacular "corpse flower" nicknamed for the rotten meat smell it releases as it blooms is expected to reveal its flower any day now at Kew Gardens in England.

The flower is a rare example of the Indonesian Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) plant. Native to the equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, it evolved its horrendous odor to attract pollinating carrion beetles and flesh flies, which normally feed on rotting flesh. A corpse flower's bloom is rare and unpredictable, and typically only lasts a day. [See the stages of a corpse flower's bloom .]

The corpse flower bloom is actually not a single flower, but thousands of tiny flowers, which botanists call an inflorescence.

This year has seen several corpse flowers bloom, including Metis at Binghamton University in upstate New York and Titan 3 at Western Illinois University.

Kew Gardens has a large number of plants, and as such, flowerings have become a remarkably common occurrence there have been more than three times as many titan arums flower at Kew in the last six years than in the previous 120 years, according to the Garden's website.

A titan arum bloomed at Kew Gardens earlier this year (video above) and the current flower's progress can be found on Kew Garden's flickr page.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.