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‘Rotty Top’ flower blooms at University of Tennessee for first time in 20 years

A University of Tennessee corpse flower named ‘Rotty Top’ for its putrid aroma is blooming for the first time in 20 years.
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:42 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee’s titan arum, or corpse flower, plant has bloomed for the first time in 20 years, the university announced Wednesday.

The plant has the largest cluster of flowers of any plant in the world and does not flower often. When it does flower, it emits a smell similar to the rotting body of an animal. Because of this, the university named its specimen ‘Rotty Top.’

“It’s a very unique plant,” said the greenhouse manager for UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Jeff Martin. “It smells like a dead animal to attract flies, which are attracted to rotting animals. It’s bright crimson for the same reason. Botany courses use it for the students to understand different plants around the world. It’s a good teaching tool.”

The plant comes from the rain forests of Indonesia, officials say. While the plan usually lives in the biology greenhouse, they have moved it to the Hesler Biology Building so people can see - and sniff - it.

“I’ve watched it grow,” said a greenhouse assistant, Grace Donnelly. “It’s been really cool. We’ve never had a flower yet. I’m really interested in what it’s going to smell like. I’ve heard it’s going to smell just terrible.”

Rotty Top is open for viewing in room 402 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those interested can also track the plant’s progress on Instagram or watch a livestream.

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