I am completely, totally obsessed with a woman for the first time in my life. Her name is Lois, and she is rare and beautiful – nearly six feet tall, fat-bottomed, enticingly unpredictable and on the verge of becoming something so magnificently foul that you cannot help but be drawn to her.
Lois: Amorphophallus titanum (pic courtesy of The Houston Museum of Natural Science)
[view the object of my affection live here.]
Lois is a Corpse Flower housed in the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Cockrell Butterfly Center. The name says it all, but when Lois finally blooms, the fragrant odor that will emit from her is comparable to a rancid stew of the stankiest things nature has to offer (think cooked cabbage, hot garbage and decaying flesh.)
Native to Sumatra, plants like Lois flower very infrequently in the wild and even less frequently in “captivity”, so this is admittedly a big deal. Lois has lived in H-Town for six years with nary a bloom, but now she is the center of attention, having grown 33.25 inches since July 1. Her progress has been meticulously (would you expect any less from a museum?) tracked on flickr and the Beyond Bones blog.
The online community’s growth has mimicked Lois’, as evidenced by the crowd-sourced get-funky-soon playlist, active Twitter feed, and the divalicious CorpzFlowerLois on Twitter and Facebook. Demand to watch Lois live is so great that Rice University offered tech support for the constantly-crashing streaming video.
I am thrilled that the museum is getting so much attention. Now open on a 24/7 schedule until Lois reveals her malodorous charms, throngs of people are waiting in line to get a glimpse and hopefully be (un)lucky enough to catch a whiff.
Corpse Flower in full bloom. Not Lois.
I will continue to stalk watch Lois from afar, envious of those who are privileged to meet her face to funk.
See the Corpse Flower at HMNS! [Amorphophallus titanum] from HMNS on Vimeo.
EDIT: Erin B. at HMNS wrote an amazing blog about Lois’ unexpected impact and the power of community. Thanks for the shout-out!