Cambridge University titan arum flower attracts 11,000 visitors

image copyrightCUBG
image captionThe plant bloomed for five days before beginning to collapse overnight

More than 11,000 people turned up to get a whiff of a rare "corpse flower" that produced the "stench of rotting flesh" when it bloomed.

The titan arum at Cambridge University Botanic Garden flowered on Saturday and produced its trademark vile smell for five days before it began wilting.

It had only been expected to bloom for about 48 hours.

The garden's curator Dr Dan Brockington said the response from the public had been "mind-blowing".

He added."It's lovely to see so much excitement about a plant."

image copyrightCUBG
image captionThe titan arum bloomed late on Saturday afternoon

The plant, Amorphophallus titanum, was the first to flower at the garden in 11 years.

Thousands of people watching the pungent plant's progress on a webcam caused the system to crash several times.

image copyrightCUBG
image captionPeople queued late into the night when the garden announced its plant had bloomed

It emits its smell - described as smelling like rotten eggs or dirty laundry - to attract pollinators, and it is particularly pungent at night time when it heats itself up to about 40C (104F).

The heat helps to distribute sulphurous compounds - the "atrocious stench" - across vast distances in its native Sumatra to lure pollinators, thought to be carrion beetles and blowflies.

Thousands of people visited the garden during special night-time openings to get the full effect of the whiff.

image copyrightDr Paul Coxon

"It really is quite disgusting, especially on the first night. If you're particularly sensitive it can produce a sort of gag-inducing response.," Dr Brockington said.

"As soon as you walked into the glasshouses you had this smell of old gym clothes and gone-off socks, and then as you got closer it's sort of camembert."

image copyrightDr Clive Oppenheimer
image captionVolcanologist Dr Clive Oppenheimer used thermal imaging to monitor the temperature of the plant

On Sunday, as news began to spread, about 4,500 people turned up. On an average Sunday the garden might expect about 1,500 visitors.

"The numbers are mind-blowing, really. There's been a lot of excitement in the local community," said Dr Brockington.

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