The Leaning Tower of Perry

Posted on July 25th, 2010 by

Perry the Corpse Flower had a great run Friday and this weekend.  Beautiful weather was constant during the daylight hours of the three days (and we had exciting weather for a while after Perry’s night-time peak – spectacular lightning on the way back home from an encounter with Perry at her/his maximum glory, followed by an intense storm).  Thousands of Perry enthusiasts visited, and it was wonderful to talk with some of them and experience the intensity of their interest in Perry.

A particularly nice part of the experience was seeing the enthusiasm (occasionally coupled with disgust at Perry’s aroma) of the large number of kids who made the Perry Pilgrimage.  This afternoon, during the last informational presentation of the three that I made today, I was peppered with questions from five youngsters in the front row for the entire time.  That made it easily the longest of the sessions that I did during the past two days, and certainly the most uniquely enjoyable.  A tour of the non-Perry part of the greenhouse for a subset of them, showcasing the magnificent array of carnivorous plants (thanks, Sam C.) and other plants such as orchids and xerophytes (and our ever-popular Wollemi Pine) was great.

Back to Perry.  She/he is, for now, headed for the Great Compost Heap in the Sky (or on the Great Compost Heap on the Ground, or maybe even the Great Compost Heap on an Asteroid or Something, depending on one’s philosophical and/or theological interpretation of the concept).  Perry’s spadix was decidedly drooping this afternoon, bending toward the streaming webcam.  Perhaps Perry was drawn in that direction by the love that has been expressed by his/her online fans, in particular those who inhabit the Corpse Flower Chat Room.  Thanks, all, for your devotion, and for the “T” system of naming of Perry Room volunteers.  And thanks to “T” herself for her boundless supply of energy and enthusiasm for Perry.  A tip of the top hat to all of you.  :)



  1. Jen says:

    Does he still smell bad? i saw him on Friday afternoon around 3:00 and the odor wasn’t that horrible. It reminded me of a cross between really strong sauerkraut and the leaves on broccoli. I will be disappointed if I missed my window of opportunity to experience the aroma of what my horticulturist uncle describes as “cheese-filled corpse.”

    • Brian O'Brien says:

      Jen, I love your descriptions. The sauerkraut/broccoli is highly applicable, and the term “cheese-filled corpse” will remain forever in my mind. Perry does still smell bad, but at a level of only about 10% of the maximum. The current description is dead fish.

      If you were there on Friday afternoon, you got a pretty good dose of Perry fragrance. It varies over time, and it appears that you were there during a ‘rotting crucifer’ phase (crucifers are plants in the cabbage/broccoli/etc. family).

  2. Beth says:

    He was so magnificent, it’s sad to see him this way. But thanks again to you all for sharing Perry with us. It was grand while it lasted. Here’s to Perry’s rebirth in a few years!

    • Brian O'Brien says:

      Thanks, Beth. We greatly appreciate your comments. I think that you’re correct to apply the term ‘magnificent’. It’s not frequent that the term is truly appropriate when used, but I think that it’s justifiable in this case. See you in about three years… :)

  3. Peg Hartke says:

    I saw Perry on Saturday the 24th with a couple of my older Grandchildren. Some of the younger ones want to see another one someday???? Is there any chance of another one blooming soon??? Peg

    • Brian O'Brien says:

      Hi Peg – Thanks to you and your grandchildren for visiting. You could be in luck with regard to seeing another Corpse Flower soon. The plant named BOB, Too (named after me…) at the Conservatory in Como Park in St. Paul could well bloom within the year. It’s presently in leaf, and looks to me to be large enough to flower. The leaf will have to die, followed by several months of dormancy, before flowering. Here’s a link to a photo of the leaf in November 2009:

  4. Jamie says:

    How to grow them inside the house, where to place them for increase their lifespan