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Originally published June 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 30, 2005 at 11:01 AM

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Blossoming "corpse flower" is a real knockout

Raise a toast, but hold your nose. After a bit of brooding because of the cool weather, Waldo, the botanical marvel, has bloomed at Seattle's...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Raise a toast, but hold your nose. After a bit of brooding because of the cool weather, Waldo, the botanical marvel, has bloomed at Seattle's Volunteer Park Conservatory.

And with the flowering arrives an unmistakable stench. The plant, an Amorphophallus titanum native to the tropical jungles of Sumatra, emits a smell akin to rotting flesh as it begins to open.

In the wild, the odor of the "corpse flower" attracts carrion beetles, the plant's primary pollinators.

At the conservatory last evening, the odor drew plant enthusiasts and curious onlookers eager to sniff.

Waldo, a hermaphrodite, began life 10 years ago as an almond-sized seed at the greenhouse at the University of Washington. Now the plant stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and is 47 inches wide. This is the first bloom for the plant, which the UW loaned to the conservatory for the occasion.

But there could be little Waldos down the road: Pollen from another titanum — Ted from the University of California — was being express-mailed to the conservatory.

The conservatory, at 1400 E. Galer St., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Take note: Past blooms have lasted only a few days.

Florangela Davila: 206-464-2916 or fdavila@seattletimes.com

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