If you follow botany at even the most glancing angle, you’ve probably heard of the enormous, rank-smelling “corpse flower,” or Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum). I mean, they kicked off an episode of The Simpsons with a spoof of this thing—it’s a poster child for the weird end of botany. Smells like a dead animal, largest unbranched florescence in the world, et cetera.
What you might not have heard is that The New York Botanical Garden was the site of the first-ever blooming of this rancid beauty in the United States (it’s not a common event). That was in 1937, and it wasn’t long before the Bronx named it as the borough’s official plant. Kind of weird, considering the plant is native to Sumatra, but the Boogie Down abides by its own rules. (We switched our official plant to the daylily about twelve years ago; that’s a pretty big leap.)
Seeing as Selby Gardens in Sarasota, FL is about as close to being my home botanical garden as you can get, I thought I’d offer up my congratulations over the most recent opening of their own corpse flower in June. Here’s to the continued (and some would say masochistic) cultivation of the rottenest-smelling oddity in the plant world. —MN