The plant is indigenous to the Indonesian island of Java and is exceptionally challenging to bloom, emitting a harsh odor when it does.
According to botanists, this is only the third time in history that one of the smelly penis plants has blossomed in Europe. The last time the plant bloomed on the continent was in 1997.
A Dutch gardener planted the one currently in bloom at the Leiden Hortus Botanicus in 2015. The plant had been meticulously cared for by volunteers for six years before it finally emerged early last week.
Rogier van Vugt, a Greenhouse manager, told Dutch media outlet Omroep West that the plant’s name “amorphophallus” is translated to “shapeless penis” in English.
“But with a little imagination, you can indeed see a penis in the plant. It is, in fact, a long stem, and on it is a typical arum with veins. And in the middle is a thick white spadix,” van Vugt told the outlet.
Pictures posted by Leiden Hortus Botanicus show that a group of green thumb enthusiasts happened to be pleased.
A woman takes pictures of the flowering penis plant ANP/AFP via Getty Images
And while fans may have gone to great lengths to get a glimpse of the rare flower, they would also have been met with a foul odor.
In a post from the garden’s Instagram account, the flower has a scent similar to “a questionable fish market.”
The penis plant is closely related to the amorphophallus titanium, commonly known as the “corpse flower” due to its similarly stinky odor.
The emergence of a corpse flower in the United States is a rarity and usually makes national news. In 2006, the smelly petals opened up the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In 2018, the last blooming of the flower took place in New York City at Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden. There was also a sighting at the Chicago Botanic Garden.