Giant "corpse flower" blooms

The world's tallest -- and smelliest -- flower has bloomed, reaching a height of 2.94 metres, 18 centimetres more than the previous record for the species, the Stuttgart botanical garden said on Friday.

The Titan Arum, or Amorphophallus Titanum, nicknamed "corpse flower" because of its putrid stench, blooms rarely and briefly.

Garden staff have nicknamed the purple flower "Diva" and are charting its life on their web site, www.wilhelma.de.

But those keen for a glimpse, or a whiff, in person must be quick: just 24 hours after the 11 year-old plant produced its first flower, the bloom began to wilt on Friday.

The Titan Arum was discovered in 1878 in its sole indigenous habitat, the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and grows in cultivation in only a handful of places around the world.

Its scent has been likened to rotting fish or animal flesh.

"The smell is crucial to its survival in its natural habitat because it attracts pollinating carrion beetles and flesh flies," said botanist Franziska Lo-Kockel.

Lo-Kockel brought the bulb of the plant, weighing some 40 kilograms, from the University of Frankfurt to the Stuttgart gardens 11 years ago.

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