The Corpse Flower

Everyone in Houston is talking about ‘Lois’ the corpse flower – Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum).  The corpse flower is one of the largest flowers in the world, reaching heights of 7-10 feet and a diameter of 5-6 feet.  ‘She’ is called a corpse flower because, once she blooms, she will emit an odor similar to rotting flesh to attract pollinators.  I’ve read that the scent only lasts about 12 hours, so I think we may head over (again) toward the end of that time frame.  I’m not sure I could handle the stench.  She’s over at HMNS, where the staff, and a fair amount of Houstonians, are impatiently waiting for her to bloom. The museum has even been keeping around the clock hours for viewing!

While I realize that the simple fact that the flower is here, in a museum rather than in its natural habitat, is tampering or interfering with nature, I would really like ‘Lois’ to bloom without further interference.  (After all, her natural habitat is in Sumatra and is being rapidly deforested.)  The horticulturist on site felt the need to shut the exhibit down just before a friend and I had arrived to see her.  We waited an hour and a half, wandering the Cockrell Butterfly Center, because we were told the plant was in ‘surgery.’  As it turns out, the horticulturist thought it wise to cut into the plant to be sure her bloom was progressing along nicely.  I’m no horticulturist, but this really gives rise to an eerie similarity with the state of maternal care here in Houston.  It didn’t help that we overheard the horticulturist joke about giving the plant a sort of emergency c-section.  In reality, he hooked her new hole up to a bag of rotting bananas to ‘induce’ her, as it were.  Here’s the HMNS blog post.

Opinions of this ‘induction’ aside, there is now an ugly plastic bag hanging off of the back of this beautiful, rare gem of a plant.  I’m hoping that the bloom will hide the bag.  If it blooms, that is.  If it does, great; we will likely go see it again.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.  We will still visit HMNS in the future and value the chance we had to see this plant anyhow.

I’m wondering if Aidan picked up on my somber mood when we finally got to see the bud.  That, or he’s thinking, “we’ve wandered around up and down the stairs over and over again, late for lunch, all for this?!”

I wish we would have gone to see the corpse flower before the surgery took place.  I am really grateful to have been able to get a photo of Aidan with it, but I’m not fond of the fact that there is a plastic bag in the photo.

Here’s another pic:

Distracting, isn’t it?

Ah well, I wish the plant and the staff at HMNS all the best.  Lois will bloom if and when she’s ready.

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