Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Feed Me, Seymour!"

"Is that your stamen, or are you just happy to see me?"
This is a corpse flower (on the left - on the right is a random stranger who was in the frame; there was a goodly enough crowd of people lined up to sniff it that I couldn't get a shot without someone in it), so called for its odor of rotting meat in order to attract flies and beetles for pollination.

I first heard about these when I quite young. At the time I had not smelled a corpse, so I was curious to sniff the flower - because I sure didn't care to seek out an actual corpse. I never got the chance to see the flower until the other day.

In the intervening years, I worked for awhile as a mortuary transportation driver, which led to a job in a mortuary as funeral director. I had plenty of opportunities to smell dead bodies, ranging from "starting to get ripe" to full-blown, fly-blown "Holy Mother of God, let's hurry up and get this over with, and hand me the Vick's VapoRub!"

Then I heard that College Town College had one of these things in its greenhouse, and that it was about to bloom. Now my curiosity was to compare its smell to that of real-live corpses, as it were. I smelled it on its second day of blooming, and I think it was beginning to fade. The smell wasn’t very strong, and it had only a faint resemblance to decomposition to my jaded nose. Maybe the similarity was greater on its first day.

I was just glad I had finally gotten to see (and smell) one of these amazing plants…wait for it…in the flesh!

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