Visitors at the Houston Museum of Natural Science have to lean in a bit closer on Thursday to catch a whiff of the corpse flower that bloomed earlier this week.
The fading stench, which many visitors describe as smelling like a rotting fish, does more than attract nature lovers. Lauren Davidson runs the Cockrell Butterfly Center where the museum's corpse flower, “Meg”, is located. She said the odor is a way to attract insects.
"These insects are attracted to that smell because usually they're looking for something to lay their eggs on," she said. "Which is usually like a dead animal. So that's why it smells like death."
Davidson said flowers like Meg use these insects as pollinators. Meg first showed signs of her bloom on Tuesday evening, and was in full bloom on Wednesday. The smell has slowly begun to dissipate according to museum representatives, and the bloom will likely wither by the end of Thursday or Friday morning.
Nancy and Cindy were visiting the museum with their grandchildren. They've seen other corpse flowers in the past.
"This one is so tiny compared to Morticia down in Galveston," Nancy said.
"And yet it smells so much worse," Cindy said.
Lauren Davidson confirmed Meg from the Houston museum is smaller for her species at around 40 inches when she is in full bloom. Meg is also quite young.
"She's about seven or eight. We know that she hadn't bloomed before, this is her first bloom," Davidson said.
Meg's young age could explain her size, Davidson said, and her next bloom could likely look bigger than this one. Corpse flowers usually bloom once every six to eight years.