What a wild experience. Over the past few weeks, I had been keeping an eye on the Amorphophallus Titanum (corpse flower as it is known) getting ready to bloom at Tropical Bamboo Nursery & Gardens in Loxahatchee, Florida (West of West Palm Beach). Robert and his crew have been getting all kinds of well deserved media attention which helped me keep tabs on how far along the flower was and when it might bloom. The Palm Beach Post even setup a webcam which made checking in so much easier. Thanks!
Towards the afternoon on Sunday, I checked the live stream and could see the flower starting to open up a bit. I knew the time was near! I was at Startup Weekend West Palm Beach ALL weekend long (our team won!) and by the time I got a chance to check out the webcam and Facebook streams, the flower was already open. Although it was a Sunday, Robert was gracious enough to post on his Facebook page that the nursery would stay open late in case anyone wanted to stop by. Can’t thank him enough for that.
At this point it was 9:30 at night and I was still in downtown West Palm Beach celebrating with some of the #swwpb team members from TeamSponsor but there was no way I was going to miss checking out this experience. So, I hoped in my truck, knocked back a couple of Excedrin for my back and hoofed it out to Loxahatchee. After winding my way through the dirt roads (and half expecting to see hundreds of cars), I found my way to the nursery and settled in to check out the flower where a handful of people were already crowding around the plant with wrinkled up noses.
If you have never been out to the Tropical Bamboo Nursery & Gardens then you are really missing out. It is like going to a world class botanical garden where you can buy the plants! I will warn you though that if you head out there, you may find yourself with a yard FULL of bamboo. At least that’s what happened to me…..and I’m thankful for it every morning…
Like any good tourist, I wanted to get some pics but all I had on me was my phone. As it would happen, my phone battery gave out after only a few pictures and I would spend the rest of the night going back and forth to the truck to get just enough juice to capture the good bits.
The flower did reek. There is no doubt about that and it did get stronger as the night went on. Everyone’s reaction was a little different but you really didn’t want to get too close to the flower and breathe deeply. While the smell was unique (somewhat like coming across a 2 or 3 day old dead animal in the woods in the summer) the fascinating thing for me was the scale and beauty of the flower. Imagine a 6 foot flower bloom full of deep reds and vibrant greens. It was like something out of the Jurassic Park movies.
After a while, Robert began the process of pollinating the flower (there weren’t any others in the area obviously) with some pollen he received from New Hampshire I believe (don’t quote me). He surgically cut an opening at the base to get to the female bits (how is that for a scientific term) and brushed on pollen. Then we went in from the top with a long pole (bamboo obviously) and brushed on pollen across all the stigmas(?) in the plant.
Hopefully he will have a lot of success and in another 7-9 years someone else might get to experience what I did.
Thanks to everyone at Tropical Bamboo Nursery & Gardens.