The oh-so-shy corpse flower, and her groupies
The oh-so-shy corpse flower, and her groupies
Photo by Chasen Marshall

Corpse Flower: PR Ploy Or Just Another Stubborn Plant?

Is it just us, or is it starting to seem like that Corpse Flower deal over at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is just a PR stunt? Either that or someone really needs to do a credential check on the in-house horticulturalist, Zac Stayton.

For over a week viewers and media folk have flocked to the museum in hopes of being present for the pungent unveiling. Stayton and the museum brass have maintained that it could happen at any time. All have gone home disappointed.

To be fair to Mr. Stayton (who's been sleeping on the premises) and the museum, the corpse flower (it's common name due to the pungent aroma given off when one blooms) or Lois (her museum-given name) or the giant misshapen penis (the rough translation of its proper name, amorphophallus titanium) is a bit of an enigma.

There are no definitive telltale signs of when the plant will bloom and there have only been 28 to previously bloom in the United States, but this is getting absurd. It's been over nine days since the "it should happen at any time" hype began and the museum extended its hours until midnight so people could try to be present for the blooming and get a whiff of the rotting corpse-like stench - and nothing. Well, nothing other than a string of witty Tweets and a supposed increase in Lois' base width.

For the time being, it's simply a tall green stalk in a stuffy hallway with an audience standing and staring. Along with a personal security guard. And a 24/7 live web feed. And Associated Press cameras stationed and ready for the long-awaited happening.

Until the stomach-churning smell is released, the lines seem fated to persist. And the museum is willing to accept all comers' paid admission.

But like the rest of the museum attendees, we too are hoping to put our sense of smell to use, and in turn, test the durability of our gag reflex.


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