The Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science has had a rare "corpse flower" for six years, but the thing has never bloomed.
Thank God. Because when one of these things bloom, they stink to high heaven.
But all that is going to change. The perfumed, fragrant air of Houston will be invaded by a foul smell sometime this weekend, probably, when the HMNS' corpse flower finally blooms.
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"The Corpse Flower is unique because it's totally unpredictable," said Dr. Nancy Greig, director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. "No one really knows what triggers a given plant to flower, and a plant may only flower once in its lifetime. We've had ours for six years and this is the first time it has bloomed--we're very lucky," said Greig. "It may be the largest, smelliest flower in the world, but its beauty is unparalleled."
The actual time of the blooming can't be predicted, but HMNS is updating on its blog (temporarily unavailable). Their Twitter account says the best current estimate is the plant will likely start blooming Sunday afternoon, and will be in full bloom Monday. (Live webcam here.)
The smell given off when the plant blooms, by the way, is described as rsembling "rotten flesh."
Admittedly, it will be a strange feeling for Houston's air to be smelling bad. We can only suggest relaxing, and remembering it's all perfectly natural.