Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Botanic Garden's phallus plant stars in D.C.
On the day before Britain's Royal Baby arrived, the American "Royal Baby" made its appearance at the U.S. Botanic Garden to the delight of thousands who filled the Garden to witness (and sniff) the rare blossom which erupts every few years (or decades) and features a rotting odor/Patricia Leslie
Now, wouldn't you stand in line on a hot day to smell what's known as the "corpse flower" with a "fragrance" similar to rotting meat? Yes, and so would thousands of others. The line extended in a half circle from the Garden's entrance on Maryland Avenue down and around the corner of Third Street. Guards said the wait was 60 to 90 minutes, but it was less than 30. A FDA microbiologist traveled from College Park, Maryland to witness the pageant/Patricia Leslie
It could be an upside-down lamp! (The yellow cylindrical leaf is the lamp post and the flower or spathe, which can come in different colors just like at the shops, the lampshade.) Or, a ballerina iceskating on her head? A yellow dolphin showing off in the green ocean? A candle? What do you see? Botanists see an amorphophallus titanum, native to Indonesian rainforests and first discovered in 1878. Although "Andy" arrived at the Botanic Garden in 2007, this was the birthing of its first blossom which the Houston Museum of Natural Science says probably will not happen again/Patricia Leslie
Holy Mother of Jesus! That looks like the Holy Mother of Jesus carved at the top. Do you think this is related to the pope's visit to Brazil? Save the titan arum (the nickname) and do not let it collapse before we make copies and sell them for $20 each. The blossom usually fades after 24 to 48 hours/Patricia Leslie
The Botanic Garden staff passed out literature and never lost its cool, perhaps because cool went missing on the hot day. Plant stench was nowhere to be smelled at the Botanic Garden on Monday, however, one visitor reported an ample supply of human essence/Patricia Leslie
The American Royal Baby's gestation period was seven years. At blossom it weighed approximately 250 pounds (!) and grew four feet in 10 days. Its height can reach 10 feet. What does it eat? Just in case, visitors did not stand too close/Patricia Leslie
Meanwhile, back outdoors with the humans: By 7:15 p.m. the line stretched to reach Independence. Everyone was in good humor, though, waiting to see and smell a stinky plant. The Botanic Garden offers much more to see and smell than just one plant. Check it out/Patricia Leslie
What: The U.S. Botanic Garden
When: Everyday including weekends and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20001
How much: It's free
Metro station: Federal Center Southwest
For more information: 202-225-8333