During the past 4 days, the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science has stayed open 24 hours to accommodate the record crowds filing into the museum at all hours. Why? A rare Amorphophallus titanium, aka “Corpse Flower,” named Lois is finally about to bloom. Now, Lois is not your average, run-of-the-mill stinky plant. Only 28 Corpse Flowers have bloomed in the US, so Lois has become a local celebrity with her own blog, Flickr feed, live webcam and cupcakes. She even has her own playlist, with songs such as “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynrd, “I’m Comin’ Out” by Diana Ross and the classic “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe from Friends. And like any trendy Corpse Flower, Lois also has her own Twitter account. She's also a bit of a diva. Yet despite predictions, Lois still hasn't bloomed as of Wednesday morning. In response, Lois makes excuses, bad jokes, complaints and snarky comments.
What parasite is a meter across, weighs 10 kg, and stinks to high heaven? None other than Rafflesia arnoldii, a remarkable parasitic plant. As amazing and smelly as it is, it's not the only funky flower. There's plenty of stinky fruit to go around too, such as the much-maligned ginkgo nut and the infamous king of fruits, the durian.
"That's not funny, that's sick!" goes the old National Lampoon comic caption. Well, maybe this link's both... Again, not for the faint of heart.
What's 95 inches tall, purple, and stinks like rotten meat? Why, it's Amorphophallus titanum, the world's largest flower. One of them is about to bloom at the University of Wisconsin - Madison Department of Botany, and the link will take you to a webcam waiting for it to bloom. One bloomed at Kew Gardens in the UK a couple of years ago to much fanfare, and there are only a dozen or so "in captivity".