Flower power to knock you off your feet

Last updated 13:00 01/12/2013
SEAN WILLIS/Fairfax NZ

Hundreds lined up to see the Amorphophallus Titanum - known as the corpse flower - blooming at the Auckland Nursery greenhouse.

Corpse flower
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
BIZARRE FLOWER: Vanessa Cocal-Smith, 13, gets close to the world's largest flowering plant the Amorpophallus Titanum, or corpse flower, at Auckland Domain Wintergardens.

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Hundreds of people queued from dawn this morning to get a glimpse, and whiff, of one of the rarest flowers on earth blooming in Auckland.

The amorphophallus titanum - better know as the corpse flower - has a stench so vile people have been know to faint in its presence but that hasn't stopped Aucklanders making a beeline to see it.

An Auckland Council spokesman said there had been queues out the door of the tropical glasshouse at the Auckland Domain Wintergardens all day, and they were expected to last well until the glasshouse closed at 8.30pm.

The smell of the flower and heat inside the glasshouse meant that visitors weren't lingering for long.

David Millward, manager of Auckland City Parks Services, said it was the first time a corpse flower had bloomed in New Zealand.

"We will get international recognition for it."

The flower is the biggest in the world - a towering 2.5 metres. The bulb, or corm, weighs 55kg, but Millward said they could get as heavy as Jonah Lomu: 120kg in his playing prime.

And then there's the smell described as similar to rotting meat.

They are also notoriously fickle in flowering. The Wintergarden's plant is seven years old and this is the first time it has flowered. It may never flower again, Millward said.

The Corpse Flower grows in the wild only in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and is treasured by botanical experts worldwide.

"The team have been like expectant parents for the last three weeks once it was established it was going to be a flower. There have been lots of sleepless nights for some of the staff worrying about it," Millward said.

It is not known whether the flower will last for another day - those who want to see it are urged to head to the domain today.

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