Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lois, the shy violet

Are you one of the thousands who have been anxiously following the progress - or lack of same - of the Amorphophallus titanum named Lois at the Houston Museum of Natural Science Cockrell Butterfly Center? The plant, whose common name is "corpse flower" because it smells like rotting flesh when it blooms, has certainly raised a stink among plant geeks all over the country and even around the world this summer as its inflorescence grew bigger and bigger and it began to look as though it would burst into bloom at any minute. These plants are rare and endangered and they bloom only infrequently in the wilds of Sumatra, their only known home, and even less frequently in cultivation. Thus, one can understand the excitement in the plant world when it looked like Lois was just about to bloom.

Personnel at the butterfly center have continued to issue updates and raise hopes that "any minute now" blooming could commence, but I just checked the Lois webcam and those petals still looked to be tucked up pretty tight. Some have even begun to ask the unthinkable question: What if she never opens her petals but just wilts and collapses instead?

Lately, they've been feeding the plant hormones and rotting bananas to try to encourage her to get on with it. Maybe they should just try giving her a little privacy instead.

I mean here the poor thing stands all alone and far from her native rainforest and asked to perform for all the world to see, both the hundreds who show up at the museum every day hoping to be present for the magic moment and the thousands more watching on webcam. Wouldn't you be a little nervous? Plants are only human, after all.

So, I say, shut it down. Draw a curtain. Give Lois some privacy. Maybe she's really a shy violet at heart. With just a little tenderness and sensitivity, she might still produce the stench that all of Houston has spent the month waiting for!


  1. I'm glad I got a chuckle from you, Kathleen. Poor Lois! I just feel bad for her.