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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April 2005, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
In pictures: 'Corpse flower' blooms

Titan arum in bloom at Kew Gardens on Thursday

A titan arum flower has bloomed at Kew Gardens in west London. At 2.11m, it is the tallest flower in the world.

Smells that bad should be against the law

It is also the foulest. The bloom's odour is said to smell like rotting flesh, old socks, Camembert cheese or dirty nappies.

Onlookers enjoy the titan's flower - from a distance

Some say there is a tinge of burnt sugar too. Before it blooms, the flower has a growth spurt of 10cm a day.

You'll need to have your camera at the ready

Enthusiasts need to be quick to see - and smell - the spectacle. Despite taking six years to flower, the titan arum only keeps its bloom for two days.

Crowds gather to experience the titan arum

The flower is very rare and only a handful of glasshouses cultivate specimens. The last flowering of one at Kew was in 2003.

Alan Langley tends the flower before the web streaming

Cambridge University showed a titan arum blooming live on the web last year. It helped the more squeamish enjoy the sight, without the scent.

A titan arum from 1996

In its native Sumatra, the titan arum is known as the 'corpse flower'. It uses its scent to attract beetles and flies that help pollinate it.

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