Friday, July 18

World's Biggest Corsage - With the sis in town, I thought it would be nice if we took a leisurely breakfast on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol. Our meandering then took us down to the United States Botanic Garden, a wonderfully restored conservatory across from the future National Museum of the American Indian.

As it happens, there was quite a buzz at the USBG about their Titan arum, a giant plant which is poised to bloom sometime this weekend. Supposedly the largest flower in the plant kingdom, these guys only open every ten years or so. As one website floridly puts it:

The massive inflorescence consists of a bell-shaped spathe, up to 3 m in circumference, with ribbed sides and a frilled edge, around a central spike-like spadix. On the outside, the enveloping spathe is green speckled with cream, but its interior is rich crimson. At its base, the spathe forms a chamber enclosing the flowers which are carried at the lower end of the greyish-yellow spadix. The inflorescence arises from an underground corm, a swollen stem modified to store food for the plant. This corm, more or less spherical in shape and weighing 70 kg or more, is the largest such structure known in the plant kingdom.

Cool -- well, besides the fact the bloom is said "to smell of a mixture of excrement and rotting flesh." Quite coincidentally, it seems the Norfolk Botanical Garden is experiencing a rare (and sweeter smelling) giant agave bloom as well. Must be something in the water.