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August 3, 2015 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Reek, the reward.

So hot the corpse died.

You’d think the zoo would have known better. They deal with living things, right?

They could have checked with the Museum of Natural Science people, but there’s always been a rumor of competition between the two.

Was it a matter of leaving out something important like some cooks do when a closely guarded recipe is requested?

Addams Family portrait. 1964. (ABC/USPD:, no cr/

They had been so looking forward to the occasion. FYI:Bob will not discuss the disturbing image at the bottom right. (ABC/USPD/

People are disappointed.

That rotting body stench.

What draws them to that? Gruesome. People are so weird.

How else do you account for all the commercial haunted houses and slasher movies?

In 1937 police were brought in to handle the crowds eager to see a Corpse at the New York Botanical Gardens.

They came. They squealed. They held their noses.

Reek, the Houston Zoo’s Corpse Flower, succumbed before its’ blooming time.

Corpse Flowers, Amorphophallus titanum, flourish in the rain forests of Western Sumatra. After growing seven years or so, they poke up a weird stalk holding clusters of flowers which bloom for only 24-48 hours.

It’s a rare event.

Come closer, my lovely. (Corpse Flower. Amorphophallus titanum at the US Botanic Garden.(USPD: fed.employee/

Come closer, my lovely…if you have the fortitude.(USPD/

That’s what all the stink is about.

The “fragrance” (and that term is used loosely) really smells like rotting animals and wafts a distance up to half a mile to lure insects and thrill seekers.

The attraction baffling to many, but a moneymaker as people were willing to pay extra to bathe in the air by Reek.

Sadly Reek’s nanny, who assumed the hot, humid, outdoor weather in Texas was the perfect environment, didn’t realize that Corpse Flowers, like humans, wilt if it’s over 90 degrees.

We’ve had multiple days of 100+. Deadly.

Could be why the Houston Museum of Natural Science kept their Corpse Flower, Lois, in a climate controlled environment so the show could go on: rain, shine, or roasting. (2010)

Louis also had her own Twitter account, a 24-7 webcam for her world-wide fan club with over 80,000 of them showing up in person. She had her own video!  They pampered her with bloom inducing chemicals from rotten bananas placed lovingly at her base.

People wrote Haiku to her! Oh, the “Odes to Lois”.

HMNS even brought in a younger companion, shy Audrey, to keep company with Lois as she rests and considers blooming again.

Nothing too good for Lois.

Maybe Reek felt unappreciated at the zoo.

Reek, the plant lives, but forget that exotic experience this year.

Reeks wilts at Houston Zoo. (

The result of despair as great as Theon Greyjoy’s? Reeks wilts. (

Oh, Reek, we hardly knew ya’.

Maybe it’s better to start a relationship slowly anyway.

No wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.

We’ll step back and let affection bloom slowly.

Longing for the sweet smell of success.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.



  1. shoreacres / Aug 3 2015 1:05 pm

    Oh, good grief. After all the hoopla over Lois (yes, I watched the webcam) you would think the zoo would have known. And if they knew enough to know they had a corpse flower, at the very least you’d think they would have taken a look at the Wiki. Ah, well.

    Lois was wonderful. Remember the off-hours wedding? I can’t remember if the wedding took place in her presence pre-bloom or during the full bloom, but in any event, it had to be memorable.

    Shoot, even I know that a true tropical can’t take the heat. My Cape Honeysuckle stop blooming about July, and just sit around and pout until September or so. Once it gets back to the 80s, they get back to business.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 1:33 pm

      Hey – the rain forest is tropical. Houston’s tropical-ish. Anything the HMNS can do we can do better? Who needs a special “room” for a corpse when we have the whole outdoors…and besides, real insects can came and it will be just like home. The website had a slideshow started measuring it each day, then collapse. Those things are bound to be expensive – only 28 have bloomed in the US – you’d think a little research…
      Although we’re on 2-3 degrees above normal, hot is hot. Sad to hear HCC had a police dog collapse after spending all night outside in a 7 foot run…probably concrete floor and no wind. Even the street radiates heat for hours – you can feel it at 10pm. With AC so common it looks like people have forgotten the pace of life in the summer has to change.
      Lois was a hoot. Remember all the crazy hats and costumes people dressed up in? Hope the new little HMNS corpse feels at home and blooms. The party all around it was an event all in itself. Thanks for sniffing out a comment


  2. Kate Crimmins / Aug 3 2015 1:14 pm

    I learn the damndest things on your blog.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 1:41 pm

      That’s one flower I think we can avoid planting in our gardens. Thanks for snorting along!


  3. Carrie Rubin / Aug 3 2015 1:27 pm

    Hmm, I think I’ll pass on the chance to smell that. I’ve had the not-so-fun privilege of smelling a decaying raccoon that took a while for the authorities to remove. I’m good on the decay scent for a long, long while. 😉


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 1:45 pm

      That dead smell is bad enough outside, but in an enclosed humid hot room…whew. Web cams are good. Thanks for rolling a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

  4. easyweimaraner / Aug 3 2015 1:29 pm

    how can something what looks so beautiful stink to high heaven… hmmm that could be a lesson for life :o)
    we had an awful stench in my crib once too (no, it wasn’t me I swear) and my momma removed the carpet because she thought it came from the rotten oyster I storaged there… butt it was a carrion flower in full bloom… and even that blossoms were beautiful it has to live in my back yard now…


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 1:47 pm

      Oh, Easy, what an astute observation in that first sentence. Oysters, carrion flowers – both do better outdoors….somewhere where Molly can’t roll in it. Enjoyed your blooming comment


  5. aFrankAngle / Aug 3 2015 1:30 pm

    Wow … first impression is That’s on BIG flower. And it emits a stench, too? Wow … gotta wonder about the way on that one.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 1:51 pm

      That glamour shot flower picture came from the US Botanical Garden. Once they get into gear, the plants grow astonishingly fast just before they bloom. Lois created quite a circus for weeks. People dressed up in costumes for their visit. They had a Stink-o-meter measuring the level each day. Gag big time. Funny what people enjoy. We’ll just leave that flower – waaaaay over there. Thanks for cultivating a cool comment


      • aFrankAngle / Aug 3 2015 1:57 pm

        Did you visit Lois?


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 2:25 pm

          We went, but the lines for her chambers was so long, we just went to the dinosaurs and the gem collection instead. The crowd was quite an exhibit all by itself.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Littlesundog / Aug 3 2015 2:04 pm

    Brilliant!! Oh, to be inside of that mind of yours for one day would be the experience of a lifetime!! Ha ha! I LOVED this post… has put a smile on my face for the entire day I think!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 3 2015 2:28 pm

      Ha! You’d probably get exhausted from all the racing thoughts. (especially as we are getting cabin fever here) Thanks for gathering up a comment for the comment bouquet

      Liked by 1 person

  7. D. Wallace Peach / Aug 3 2015 3:42 pm

    The stench travels 1/2 mile? Thank goodness it only blooms for a day or two! This is an amazing planet we live on.Too weird to be made up.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:22 pm

      It’s a super power flower. Probably the next tv series. (It has a flaw just like Superman!) Thanks for running by and picking a comment to put in this vase

      Liked by 1 person

  8. sustainabilitea / Aug 3 2015 4:03 pm

    So glad to have the opportunity to observe over the non-smelling internet (although there are certainly times when the internet stinks!) I’m pretty sure I’ll have the theme music from the Addams Family in my mind for the rest of the day. Snapping my fingers right now.


    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:23 pm

      Those flowers aways remind me of the Addams family. Hope another tune was able to nudge them over and haunt you now. Thanks for planting a comment


  9. Robin / Aug 3 2015 6:04 pm

    1/2 mile? Wow! That’s a long way for the stink to travel. I’m surprised the zoo folks didn’t know any better.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:30 pm

      As a 7 foot tall flower, it packs a lot of power. A bit surprising about the zoo – Lois was a big deal and was always on the news with much talk about her “special temp/humidity controlled room.” MAybe the zoo can pamper it and Reek will try again – with the attention the plant deserves. There’s only been 28 blooms in the US. Such divas. Thanks for tossing in a flowery comment


  10. marthaschaefer / Aug 3 2015 7:04 pm

    Actually saw these in the wild while living in SE Asia. Add the stinky Durian fruit and one has to wonder about cultural differences. The Durian smell so awful taxi drivers could refuse to allow passengers to bring them home from the market!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:34 pm

      I found an old picture of tourists around one in the wild. Seeing one in the wild would be quite an authentic experience. I guess the plants there have a lot of competition for critical insects – only the strongest (smelliest) ones thrive. Thanks for heating up things with a cool comment

      Liked by 1 person

  11. EllaDee / Aug 4 2015 12:31 am

    It’s happened to us all, that beautiful [and possibly expensive] bright n’ showy houseplant slowly wilting and dropping leaves despite our best efforts. I love that Lois has a offsider called Audrey… Feed me Seymour! 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:51 pm

      I’ve given up on the lovelies…only the native to the area and the strong determined ones survive in this yard.
      They have contests to name the Corpse Flower plants. For a while it looked like “Herman” would win as that was on of the early benefactors of the big park/zoo/natural science museum, but Audrey won. With that name, she has big roots to grow into. Thanks for adding an energizing comment


  12. Ally Bean / Aug 4 2015 12:47 pm

    Interesting flower. Cool, even. If I don’t have to smell it. I cannot imagine why the horticulturists here don’t know how to keep it alive. It’s not like there isn’t someone on the other side of the world who could help them. Oh well, poor baby stinky flower, may she RIP.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 4 2015 1:58 pm

      The zoo nanny must be new to town – Lois was such a big deal with people constantly talking about her special humid, temp controlled environment. But maybe the zoo was attempting to keep it’s mandate of all things in their natural environment…which they thought meant outdoors in the “wild” for plants? The poor thing is supposed to be alive, maybe they can pamper it properly like a diva deserves and it will make a second appearance. It stinks, that’s for sure. Thanks for sending a sniffy remark

      Liked by 1 person

  13. reneejohnsonwrites / Aug 4 2015 11:15 pm

    I’ve heard that is one stinky plant. But I would love to see it and experience the aroma (odor) if its bloom. What a unique plant!!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 5 2015 1:42 pm

      Who can resist that weird experience. The flower is huge at 7+ feet. We headed to see Lois, but the line was always too long – playing to her fans, Lois still made sure everyone in the that general part of the museum could appreciate her perfume. Whew. Thanks for planting a comment


  14. Paul / Aug 5 2015 6:56 am

    Ha! That is so cool. You know organic compounds are very aromatic and I am surprised there are not more stinkers. They are fascinating – if complex. In chemistry there is a reference book called the Rubber Bible. It is published yearly by CRC and it lists every chemical that has been recorded by man by formula. It includes many characteristic of each compound, Anyway, imagine my surprise when i took organic chemistry and realized that even a second year chem student could design and make an organic that had never been recorded before. They are so reactive that it is simply a matter of mixing the right reactants in the right quantities and seeing what happens.

    Here’s the kick and the reason why I’m rattling on like this. When you make an organic it often has similar characteristics to it’s predecessors, but not always. Some are lachrymators (so strong a smell that they bring tears to your eyes) so the reactions are done in fume hoods that constantly pump vast volumes of air over the reaction and out through the roof. One day we were running an experiment when the power went out and the compound we made was a lachrymator. The stench spread through the whole 4 story chemistry building and they had to evacuate the building for the afternoon.

    That was what popped into my head when I read your story about the Corpse Flower. ha! Organics are some of the most powerful smells that humans can detect – I imagine it’s because our receptors are tuned to organics for survival purposes. Bring on the Corpse Flowers.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 5 2015 1:48 pm

      What a great story. I love science stuff. One reason my mom made me take the chemistry set outdoors. (Dad took out anything that could explode – but who needs an instruction book with experiments when you’re a kid and can dream up your own?
      Surprisingly, art studios and organic chemistry have a lot in common. Really enjoyed your experimental experience!


      • Paul / Aug 7 2015 1:15 am

        Ha! Man the stuff they used to let us play with when we were kids – chemistry sets that could blow up, fireworks, electronics sets that could short circuit and catch fire, lots of guns and bows and arrows – sheesh. Ha! And yet we survived.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Aug 7 2015 1:31 pm

          It was great. People learn best by experiences…we give kids far too few now…just blah blah blah at them and expect them to learn from that. Cheating them and putting them in danger sometimes by denying them the small “dangerous” things to learn from as they grow so they know to avoid the big dangers when adults?

          Liked by 1 person

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