A Foul Flower

It is the grandest Hollywood opening, well, ever, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.

Thousands and thousands -- more than 10,000 so far -- lining up on a stinking, hot day to be among the privileged few to witness the amorphophallus titanus in bloom.

The reviews are in.

"Yuck. Stinks," says one visitor. "It smells likeÂ…"

What does it smell like? Let's just say its translation from the Latin means "corpse flower."

"It smells like a dead hamster," confirms another offended patron.

The gigantic plants from the jungles of Indonesia bloom every... well, no one knows for sure. Only ten others have bloomed in the United States this century.

"It only has a short window of opportunity to attract those pollinators. So it puts out as much stench as it can," says John Trager, curator of Huntington Botanical Gardens, where the plant came into bloom Sunday.

A smell like this usually drives people away. Now they're coming in droves.

"Yeah, and the flies too," remarks a sightseer with a mask over her face.

Despite the rotten reviews, this opening has the scent of a Hollywood hit. It's got the buzz. It's rare and exotic. And, of course, there's sex.

In the wild, the plant's mating ritual -- pollination -- is usually performed by the dung beetle. In California, curator Trager is playing that dubious role.

This is a limited engagement of only three days, which is why the lines are so long. No one knows when or if this rotten performer will ever appear again.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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