It’s Amazon’s latest novelty: the haunting, flowery smell of death.
The company recently welcomed the blooming of its second green-and-purple Amorphophallus titanum — better known as the corpse flower.
The rare flower, which reeks of rot as it begins to blossom, has found a home in Amazon’s downtown Seattle Spheres, where the public was invited Wednesday evening to watch it reach full bloom — and peak stench.
The corpse flower, dubbed Bellatrix and native to Sumatra and Indonesia, usually blossoms once every seven to 10 years, and when it finally does, it only stays open for about 48 hours, said Justin Schroeder, the Spheres’ program manager for horticulture.
“It’s a pretty rare occurrence,” Schroeder said. “It’s got the novelty of having a very foul odor and that’s something that’s kind of different from most flowers … It’s a horticultural feat. Every horticulturalist gets one or two in their career, so to get two in two years is really great.”
Now, Bellatrix stands over 6 1/2-feet tall, dwarfing Morticia, Amazon’s first corpse flower that bloomed in October by 8 inches, he said.
Both flowers were donated to the Spheres in 2014 from the University of Washington, Schroeder said. But he and his horticulture team believe it’s the first time Bellatrix has ever bloomed.
Because Morticia blossomed last year, the plant was retired back to Amazon’s off-site greenhouse, where it could enjoy the steamy 85- to 90-degree temperature and 80% humidity, he said.
Bellatrix began to peel open Monday night, emitting its strongest stench within the first 24 hours to attract pollinators such as flies and carrion beetles that usually feed on dead animals, Schroeder said.
“Part of the reason it does that is because [in Indonesia and Sumatra] it grows few and far between, and the foul odor travels farther than the sweet fragrance,” he said.
Bellatrix and Morticia aren’t the only pungent plants in Seattle — Volunteer Park Conservatory and the UW also house several varieties of corpse flowers, Schroeder said.
The uniqueness of the flower wasn’t lost on visitors, as a line of people wove around the Spheres and in between Amazon office buildings Wednesday.
“It only blooms once in seven to 10 years. I didn’t want to miss something like that,” said Shelley McKeever, 50, of Mountlake Terrace. “It was so beautiful. We rarely get to see such beauty in the states.”
Julia and Steven Smith, both 41, were vacationing from Boise, Idaho, and were impressed by both the flower and the Spheres.
“It’s incredible that it was open to the public and gave us the opportunity to see something we probably won’t get to see again in our life,” Steven Smith said.