Well, the event we've been eagerly anticipating for weeks finally happened today! Mr. Stinky finally decided to flash the neighborhood by exposing his shiny jet black spadix, all the while emitting his own peculiar, rather revolting, aroma.
This evening, when Fernymoss took these shots, there were literally clouds of flies, all competing to get as close to and on (or even in) the odoriferous spathe. They're attracted, of course, by the foul stench Mr. Stinky shares so generously with everyone ... it's an odor I've seen described as smells like a sewer, roadkill or dead animals, but to me smells more of rotten meat. I don't know what it smells like to flies (not actually having asked one) but it must be just magical for them, given the swarms flying around the bloom.
Dracunculus vulgaris belongs to the same family as the larger arums, such as the notorious "Corpse Plant" or Titan Arum, which you may have seen in various places devoted to bizarre plants. The link above will take you to the UW-Madison's (yay, I went to grad school there.) amazing specimen.
Anyway, Mr. Stinky can't rival the famed Titan Arum in size by any means, but with our specimen having grown to about five feet this year (with a 25 inch bloom), we're just thrilled we can actually grow such an unusual plant in our zone! I think I mentioned in a previous post that my sister found some ridiculously cheap Voodoo Lily bulbs and generously shared one with us ... we have yet to get it into the ground (we've been afraid it might rot with the weather lately), but if it dries out just a bit this weekend, I think we'll put it in, because if we don't soon, I fear it may begin its growth cycle prematurely. We're not sure if we'll get leaves during the summer, but I'm pretty sure it won't bloom this year ... if we're lucky, it will join its cousin late next spring in perfuming (I use that term very loosely here) the Woodland garden. One more observation about our Dracunculus ... we were surprised (oh, so pleasantly) when it came up strongly this year ... followed in relatively short order, five more offshoots! If you look closely at the first shot (click to enlarge for all of these!) you can probably distinguish them around the base of Mr. Stinky. I'm sure they'll just put up leaves this year, but who knows about next year!?
The first shot gives a contextual impression for how it's situated, and how it totally dominates the scene ... if you look closely, you'll also see the following plants: Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona,' one of our five Hellebores, the hollies of course, the now waning Bleeding Hearts, some of the Ostrich Plume ferns, and a Sea Holly preparing to bloom. And, of course, the multitude of wood violets we still have to thin out to make room for more plants such as our new Pulmonarias and another Ligularia dentata we got this spring.
The second shot gives a closer view of the entire flower (somehow sans flies), displaying the incredible textures and rich colors of the spathe ... and if you're fascinated by bloom textures like we are, this offers a multitude of interesting views during various phases of its bloom period. You can also probably (easily) spot some more neighbors ... a Leatherwood fern, a couple of Maidenhairs and the remnants of this year's peonies.
Finally, the third shot is a study of the base of the bloom, showing the swollen ahem, ovary of the plant ... should it be successfully pollinated, we might just get one of its strange seed pods later in the summer, though last year we didn't. Time will tell ... I especially like the great up close and personal view of part of the spathe ... look closer ... you can see a small fly lurking as well.
A couple of weeks ago I finally acknowledged a great irony relating to Dracunculus: the stinkiest of all our plants generally blooms during the same time our most pleasantly fragrant flowers (peonies) are blooming. Honestly, we never intended that ... but I think it's pretty cool nonetheless!
So ... Mr. Stinky has now started to strut his stuff on the main stage for a few days, commanding anyone short of blind's attention ... at Casa IVG, this still constitutes a momentous day in the garden!