So on Monday, along with the eclipse viewing, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s titan arum–commonly known as a corpse flower–came into bloom. Sunshine, the gigantic, odious flower, stood more than five feet tall, looking like she would have felt far more at home with dinosaurs for company.
I couldn’t help but wonder what people might have said, many eons ago, before we understood a solar eclipse was just the pushy moon trying to steal a bit of the sun’s spotlight. Not only daytime darkness, or in our region of partiality, daytime dimness, but the rare bloom of this flower that smells like summer-warmed garbage and is covered in flies.
I joked, while in line to snatch some of the last eclipse glasses known to humanity, that perhaps it’s a sign that hell is recalling its demons.
We can only hope.
But there was great beauty in Sunshine, if a little evolutionary awkwardness. The biologist above who was cutting her open to reveal the male and female parts of the plant pointed out that that they mature at different times, and thus these flowers are difficult to pollinate. It’s a kind of Darwinian hit-or-miss, a good enough that has them still existing, but blooms extremely unusual in the wild.
Alas, reproduction wasn’t in store for Sunshine, since all the other corpse flowers at the Botanic are siblings. While there’s a sharing program with Washington, unfortunately the flowers are star-crossed and the timing was wrong.
I told you, evolutionarily awkward.
For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.
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