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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What to Do: Go See the Amorphophallus

MTThe amorphophallus has yet to bloom but beware the smell when it does.
It has earned nicknames such as Voodoo Lily and Devil's Tongue due to its arguably offensive appearance, and its real name -- Amorphophallus -- derives from its phallic shape. Its real notoriety, however, is largely due to its repellant smell.

The amorphophallus is a flower that blooms for only two or three days, but during this period it gives off a scent that has been compared to the smell of decomposing flesh. In its native habitats of India, China, and Indonesia, this smell attracts flies that pollinate the flower.

This strange plant was first exhibited at the British Royal Botanical Garden in 1889, inspiring public outrage. An amorphophallus is now at Moscow's House of Butterflies, and so far no one has complained.

"People are excited to see it," said Anastasia Medvedeva, assistant director of the House of Butterflies.

While there are more than 100 varieties of the amorphophallus, experts are concerned about the deterioration of its natural habitats. This plant, however, has ensured its survival by using its unique scent to attract the attention of botanists, who have begun to grow it in simulated environments.

Medvedeva said the House of Butterflies did not have a systematic way of acquiring new plants and butterflies: "We just get a hold of whatever we find interesting, and this plant really struck us."

The main trouble with the plant is that no one knows when it will bloom, she added.

The House of Butterflies anxiously awaits for its amorphophallus flower to bloom, and hopes it will help draw crowds to the eclectic collection of plants and butterflies -- if visitors can stand the smell, that is.

All-Russia Exhibition Center VVTs, Pavilion No. 2, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 544-3400, M. VDNKh.