Visitors flock to see corpse flower in bloom

A smelly flower is starting to bloom at Foster Botanical Garden.

In years past, tons of visitors have shown up to get a whiff of amorphophallus titanum, affectionately known as the Corpse Flower.

It’s a rare exotic plant that emits a smell similar to rotting flesh when in bloom.

“It wants to do it for pollination,” explained horticulturalist Scot Mitamura. “It attracts in nature, Sumatra where its from, it attracts a beetle and these beetles feed on dead animals.”

This is a special event because it only flowers every three to five years.

“It takes so much energy to produce the scent,” Mitamura said. “The scent comes out in pulses and it also heats up.”

“It’s something that’s pretty rare and we are always looking for something to take pictures of,” said Mililani resident Ryan Hung.

The pungent smell from the largest unbranched plant of its kind also means large visitor numbers. Garden officials say they usually average close to a hundred visitors a day. When a corpse flower is in bloom, that number jumps by up to 500 percent and many are kamaaina.

“These are our best days whenever we have one blooming,” Mitamura said. “It’s on a lot of people’s bucket lists. They all have to see it because its such a rare occurrence because they all only last one or two days at most.”

“It’s good to have people come and see what’s here,” said Hawaii Kai resident Don Buote. “You don’t know these things until you come and look.”

If you miss it this time around, there will be another chance eventually. Foster Botanical Garden has 10 blooming corpse flowers on property.

“We are fortunate enough to actually be able to bloom one to two every year,” Mitamura said.

The garden has extended hours Friday and Saturday from 9am-5:30 p.m. Typically the garden closes at 4 p.m.

General admission is $5 and $3 for kamaaina.

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