Corpse Flower blooms at the Huntington Library
When I heard about the Corpse Flower, the latest attraction at the Huntington Library in California, it sounded like another crazy mashup -- like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" or "Android Karenina." Just the sort of thing Nancy would love to plant in the backyard.
Actually Amorphophallus titanum is a gigantic plant native to the Sumatran rain forest; it can reach more than 6 feet in height when it blooms, opening to a diameter of 3–4 feet, according to the Huntington. The freaky plant already has grown nearly two feet since May 20, and the bloom is fast approaching. (Should we be worried that California's climate now resembles that of the Sumatran rain forest? Al Gore, where are you?)
But Titan Arum is best known for a horrible odor, which has led to the Corpse Flower handle.
The Huntington itself is best known for a remarkable collection of art and books. Among the latter are the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," a copy of the Gutenberg Bible on vellum, and a first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s collected plays.
Baltimore Sun photo of Titan Arum at the U.S. Botanic Garden in 2003