Friday, June 13, 2008

Mr. Stinky's Big Day!

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!


Man Eegee said...

congratulations! wow, the colors are awesome. i've enjoyed the posts (both years), not only can we chuckle through the obscenities, you and fernymoss have both taught us alot about growing beauty.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

That is one impressive, yet freaky, flower. Very cool! But do you really want more than 1 of the smelly things blooming at a time? Do your neighbors? :^)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Some one else was commenting they had one blooming. Very unique. I saw one at the Milwaukee Botanic Garden years ago.

Knucklehead said...

Very nice running commentary, for such an exotic plant.
It is quite beautiful also.

FARfetched said...

Hooray for Mr. Stinky!

I have to put up a couple of plant pix tomorrow. BTW, the allium is looking nice (blooms are not quite open yet) and has a faint garlic aroma.

katiebird said...

IVG, I'm so worried about your floods. Stay safe. xxoo kb

PS -- I was also updating my blogroll now that I'm settled in "a better place" and I'm stealing links from all my friends.... well I thought IVG doesn't have me? Really? (sniff) and THEN, I saw the wonderful link! That's VERY sweet. And now I'm sniffing back tears for real. Thank you!

boran2 said...

Congratulations on the big event, IVG! It really is an amazing thing, well worth the wait. Fortunately I can enjoy the photos without having to endure the odor. ;-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Manny! You must have really been anticipating this to come by so early! Always glad to see you here ... yeah, the colors were much richer this year, and the new S700 does a much better job of conveying them than the old Fuji did. That upgrade was certainly worth it!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

MMD, it sure is a freaky one, eh? As I've said before, we revel in the bizarre members of the plant kingdom and this one's right up there. Actually, we do think it would be cool to have several blooming at once just for dramatic effect. And really, the smell is mostly stronger the first day, but fades quickly. Today I had to get right up by it to smell it, whereas yesterday it was very strong. Oh, and no one has complained yet. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Welcome to our humble garden, Marnie! Stop by again ... was the one you saw in MKE a dracunculus or a Titan Arum? I love those pics of the one they have at UW-Madison, that one is truly astounding.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Head! You know, you could easily grow these where you are, but I wonder if they would run rampant in such a nice climate ... wouldn't that be fun? hehe

BTW, my Kniphofias look like they're on track for a good performance this year, but it will be a while. I suppose yours have already bloomed out there?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi KB! I'm going to post some flood info later tonight. We're doing fine here (except for the basement clean up)and finally had a totally dry and sunny day here in the first time in how many weeks? I forget. Last weekend we had ample sun/humidity, then you know what happens later at night... three guesses.

Hon, you've been on my blogroll for months now, lol. If I make it change colors and flash will that help? :-) Thanks for adding me to yours ...

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy ho, FAR! I'll stop by later to see if you have them up yet. I'm amazed that allium hasn't bloomed yet, it must be one of the really late ones. Maybe you have some kind of mutant garlic growing out there, lol!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

B2, thanks! Yeah, pics are fun but the true 'arum experience' is worth trying just to get a feeling for what they do, they're all so odd in some way.

katiebird said...

(snort) I could probably miss even that!

I'm still struggling to get that blogroll up to speed. It was no fun to do blogrolls in TypePad (that should have been a hint) and I eventually just gave it up.

The new home is a good fit so far (plus being basically free)

katiebird said...

OK, my excuse is that it's really late and I had a traumatic day.

But, I MEANT to say (when I came in last) that I'm looking forward to you update. I heard that Cedar Rapids is nearly out of water. I'm glad it's not hit your area that badly.

At least yet. Again, please stay safe.

Annie in Austin said...

How amazing that this is growing in your garden, Iowa Victory Garden - it seems way too exotic for the Midwest, doesn't it?

I don't grow anything this Arum-atic, but did have a Stapelia bloom last fall and posted photos on the blog...the flower looks like a starfish and the smell attracts bottle flies.

Not much we can do about either your floods or our drought, except to send our thoughts across the internet along with hope for better times.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there Annie ... I used to want to grow Stapelia when I was in college, but never found one, and had no garden. We love exotic and strange looking plants and work on enlarging our collection ... just had to have this and we will be planting a close relative Voodoo Lily soon.

We also grow castors (both red and green) every year, to the amazement of neighbors and pssersby (search for castor if you're interested). One of our green ones (Zanzibariensis)topped out at 14' before frost (and it was planted in late June!) You could grow those in a snap down your way, hehe. Same with Dragon Arums!