Last week a long line formed every day out the door of the glasshouse at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Visitors waited patiently for their chance to enter the artificially humid environment. Despite the calm temperament of the crowd forming there was a security guard on the door, letting in only a dozen or so people at a time.
So what were these people queuing for? (And how did this security guard get such a cushy job?)
To see and smell the world biggest flower.
The Titan Arum, native to Sumatra Indonesia, is more commonly known as the Corpse Flower. This is because of the funky smell emitted by the blooming flower is said to stink like rotting flesh, attracting beetles and flies for pollination.
It took the staff at the Botanic Gardens 7 years of care and encouragement to get their specimen to bloom. That may sound like a long time but considering that since 1990 there have only been about 80 blooms recorded in botanical gardens around the world this is quite an achievement.
Unfortunately we missed the Titan Arum in its full glory, of both sight and smell. It was however dying gracefully with its red petal closing round its now fading yellow spire. The odour in the glasshouse was not strong at all and despite being apprehensive I have to admit that I was disappointed that it was not more pungent.
And I didn’t get a chance to ask the security guard at the door how he managed to land such a cushy job. But considering that he would have been standing there in the December heat with the pungent odour of rotting flesh flowing from the Corpse Flower when was at its worst maybe it wasn’t such a pleasant job after all.