First Take: The Living Dead Print
Corpse Flower
Photo by David Blythe.
It’s easy to see why the corpse flower, a giant Sumatran plant that releases a smell indistinguishable from rotting flesh when it blooms, attracts the flies and carrion beetles that pollinate it. What’s surprising is that it attracts people, too. So many people, in fact, that in August the UW decided to loan its blooming corpse flower to the Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill, which is better equipped to handle the crowds. In 11 days, more than 10,000 people came to see (and smell) the rarity. The UW simply can’t handle that kind of foot traffic. “We’re not really set up to be a display garden,” explains Doug Ewing, greenhouse manager for the UW biology department. “We were kicking around the idea of putting it in Hitchcock Hall, in that big atrium, so that students could see it. But there’s just no way you could do this in a building that has offices and lab space, because of the smell. Some people have actually puked.”