So I visited a corpse flower in bloom! Corpse flowers are native to Sumatra, but we didn't have to travel that far since the United States Botanic Garden has three of them! They don't bloom frequently, and it always makes the news here when they do. I had been regretting the fact that while I've been to the US Botanic Garden several times, I had never been while the corpse flowers were blooming. This time around, I decided to seize the opportunity. They didn't all bloom at once, but you can see one in bloom (with the other two waiting to bloom) here.
The experience was somewhat different than I had expected. With a name like "corpse flower," I expected the smell to be much more dramatic, the sort that hits you like a ton of bricks as soon as you walk in the door. It turned out that the rotting meat smell was both faint and intermittent. One of the employees explained that it is energy intensive for the plant to produce this stench, so it doesn't produce it constantly. She also helpfully pointed out to everyone when it was emitting the stench, and where we could get a good whiff since--let's face it--people come to exhibits like this in part to be a little grossed out. But, they are attractive plants, even if a little smelly.
Speaking of things that are at once gross and beautiful, we saw this tree on a walk we took later.
I love how the leaves look like lace or filigree. However, I'm pretty sure they got that way by being chewed up by bugs, which kind of creeps me out.
On a different note, we saw the Hive exhibit at the National Building Museum on Sunday. Very impressive structures, especially considering they were made with paper tubes!