The scientific classification of this plant is Titan Arum, but it's more commonly known as the Giant Corpse Flower... and there's a pretty damn good reason why it got that name. To begin with, this species, which originated in Indonesia, can grow to nearly ten feet tall, which is threatening enough... but the real horror begins when it blooms, unleashing an unholy stench that comes straight from the grave. The aroma of rotting flesh attracts carrion-eating insects, which help pollinate the plant.
Oddly enough, the Corpse Flower has some dedicated fans among the horticultural community, mainly due to the fact that it blooms so rarely, and they keep a close watch for signs that the ghastly blooms are about to emerge. One such group of enthusiasts has been gathering at the greenhouse at University of California at Santa Barbara all this week to watch one of the school's four Titan Arums in full bloom.
This particular specimen, which the school named “Chanel,” even got her own Facebook page. She's finished blooming by now (the plant topped out at just under five feet tall), but you can review images and details of the historic event from the relative safety of your home... which we're going to assume smells better than that greenhouse.
The Titan Arum shown above recently bloomed in Washington, DC, making national news, delighting botanical buffs and completely grossing out pretty much everyone else.