Rare foul-smelling ‘penis plant’ blooms in Europe for only third time in history

A strange-looking and famously stinky, plant has flowered in Europe for only the third time in history.

The plant, known to botanists as Amorphophallus decus-silvae, is commonly called the penis plant. One look at the plant’s tall central bloom will make the reason for that clear.

It is also known as the "corpse flower" because of the strong, and remarkably foul, scent it produces when it flowers.

One botanist described the smell as "like roadkill, a barnyard, a dirty diaper, very strong, a little bit of mothball smell too".

Its revolting aroma attracts flies and other insects, which then go on to pollinate other penis plants.

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The phallic part of the plant, which can reach a height of over six feet, is part of its female stage of development.

It requires very warm and humid growing conditions.

In its natural environment, on the Indonesian island of Java, the penis plant can take up to seven years to bloom. In Europe, it’s an incredibly rare event. The last time it happened in the Hortus Botanicus was in 1997.

This week the University of Leiden's botanical garden in the Netherlands posted on Instagram: "At long last! Our Penis plant, Amorphophallus decus-silvae, has opened up fully and is blooming. Its scent is also present."

It is the first time the six-year-old plant had bloomed. Volunteer Rudmer Postma carefully tended the plant, and it produced a flower bud in mid-September.

Thousands are expected to visit the botanical garden to witness the rare sight and experience the horrendous perfume.

The plant produces a berry that can technically be eaten but requires careful and complex preparation.

Very few botanical gardens have Amorphophallus decus-silvae in their collection. Other examples are at the Chicago Botanic Garden, New York Botanical Garden and US Botanic Garden in Washington, making the opportunity to experience the rare bloom a very uncommon event.

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