In 2016 the Vancouver Parks Board acquired a botanical oddity native to Sumatra, Indonesia. On June 21, 2018 horticulturalists at Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory spotted a 28 centimetre bud on titan arum, the world’s largest and rarest flowering plant. commonly known as corpse or carrion flower. Over a 40 year lifespan this prehistoric behemoth might bloom 3 times for 24-48 hours. Bloom characterized by the stench of rotting meat, mother nature’s ruse to trick carrion eating beetle and insect pollinators. Gardeners at Bloedel dubbed their prize Uncle Fester.
Barely 6 years old, Uncle Fester wasn’t supposed to bloom for several years. Fester’s petals started to open Sunday, for 2 days public frenzy to catch a whiff of Fester meant waiting in line for several hours. A five minute walk from home, I considered joining the queue last night. A co-worker’s text – “waited an hour and fifteen, petals closed, no smell” – kept me home. All the same, putrid or not, Fester is a natural wonder.