On Thursday, I spent the day on the National Mall, where there are quite a few biology-related things worth a visit – even if it means braving the Washington, D.C. summer heat.
My first stop was at the U.S. Botanic Garden where – if you haven’t heard – a “corpse flower” is blooming! The titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is also known as the corpse flower or the stinky plant because it emits the scent of rotting meat to attract its pollinators. How enticing! So why is this exciting news? Well, the corpse flower can go for years or even decades without blooming (this particular one is seven years old, and this is its first flower), but when it does bloom, it produces the largest inflorescence in the world. The flower (technically an “inflorescence,” since the bloom contains multiple small flowers) can grow up to 12 feet tall!
Alas, when I arrived on Thursday, it was still just beginning to unfold. As of now, the bud is still sitting unopened, towering over camera-toting visitors like me. The flower should bloom in the next few days, however. In fact, you can visit the Botanic Garden’s “Return of the Titan” web page to watch a live-streaming video of the corpse flower as it unfolds! On the website, you can also find more information on this amazing plant.
After I left the Botanic Garden, I moved on to visit a few exhibits at my favorite place on the Mall, the National Museum of Natural History – but that’s a post for another day.