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Like a rotten corpse: World's smelliest, tallest flower in bloom at east Japan facility

A woman stands next to the titan arum that bloomed on Jan. 18, 2020, at the Tsukuba Botanical Garden in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Tsukuba. (Mainichi/Shigemi Niwaki)

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki -- The titan arum, known as the world's smelliest and tallest flower, is in full bloom at the Tsukuba Botanical Garden northeast of Tokyo.

Due to its stench, like that of a rotting corpse, the titan arum is also referred to as the "corpse flower." It is the fifth time that the plant, which rarely flowers, bloomed at the facility in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Tsukuba since June 2018.

The plant is a rare species belonging to the Araceae family that originates in Sumatra, Indonesia. The massive inflorescence, or a cluster of small flowers, can grow taller than three meters. The plant is called "Shokudai Okonnyaku" in Japanese apparently due to its shape -- resembling a "shokudai," or a candleholder.

According to the Tsukuba Botanical Garden, as of Jan. 18 the flower was 2.32 meters tall and 86 centimeters in diameter. It is the first time in Japan that a titan arum flower bloomed from the same plant for the fifth time.

As the flower is best viewed within about three days after blooming, the garden is lengthening its operating hours, and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Jan. 21. The facility is also open on Jan. 20, even though it regularly closes on Mondays.

For inquiries, please call the Tsukuba Botanical Garden at 029-851-5159 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Shigemi Niwaki, Tsuchiura Local Bureau, and Tetsu Miyata, Tsukuba Bureau)

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