A rare tropical flower shaped like a gigantic phallus and reeking of rotting flesh is unfurling in a greenhouse at Cornell University.
The corpse flower, also known as titan arum or Amorphophallus titanium, is the largest flower in the world. The native of Sumatra takes about a decade to bloom. The flower, resembling a calla lily, can reach 9 feet tall. It heats up and releases a fetid stench to attract pollinating beetles.
Cornell spokesman Joe Schwartz says there are about 140 blooming specimens in greenhouses around the world. Blooms often attract hundreds or thousands of visitors because of their rarity and oddity.
Cornell is opening its greenhouse to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. starting Tuesday. It also has a live webcam at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/titan-arum .