Rare corpse flower to bloom at Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Botanical Garden says another of its Amorphophallus titanum, an endangered species native to Sumatra, Indonesia, is anticipated to bloom this weekend. This rare, short-lived flower only blooms once every three to five years. The plant is at Foster Botanical Garden’s Orchid Conservatory.

The garden says the flower’s sheath began falling late Wednesday and the flower is anticipated to open Friday afternoon, at around 1 p.m. It should be fully open late Friday night and begin closing on Saturday.

“Everytime we have one bloom, people from all over the world come and see it,” said horticulturist Scot Mitamura. “I’m surprised that it’s on many people’s bucket list.”

The Amorphophallus titanum, also known as a corpse flower, is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the plant kingdom. Its pungent odor of rotting flesh serves to attract the carrion beetles that pollinate the flower.

“It’s just really funny to see everybody’s expression,” Mitamura said. “Some people said it’s not too bad, other say they’ve smelled worse, some people say it smells like fish guts. Everybody is different.”

Foster Botanical Garden, located on Vineyard Blvd. in downtown Honolulu, is the oldest of the city’s botanical gardens with a mature collection of tropical plants. Some of the trees in this 14-acre garden were planted in the 1850s by Dr. William Hillebrand. The garden also includes a palm collection, the Lyon Orchid Garden, hybrid orchid display, the Prehistoric Glen and a gift shop.

Cost for entry at Foster Botanical Garden is $5 general admission for visitors ages 13 years and older; $3 for Hawaii residents ages 13 years and older with ID; $1 for children ages 6-12; and free for children 5 years old and under (must be accompanied by an adult).

Foster Botanical Garden is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, call 522-7066.

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