Java 2.0

(A.K.A. Mr. Stinky)

Earlier this year, I completed the coursework portion of the Master Gardener program at Chicago Botanic Garden. In addition, I need to complete a minimum of 60 hours of volunteer work to get certified. One of the things I can do to meet that requirement is help staff public events. This past Friday, I was lucky enough to help out at the Corpse Flower exhibit as Java 2.0 was in full bloom.

I’d never seen a Corpse Flower–real name Titan Arum–in bloom before, which means I’d never enjoyed the distinctive scent that gives it its name. The smell definitely wasn’t pleasant, but…it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, either. After I finished greeting visitors, I got to be a visitor myself. I went inside the Semitropical Greenhouse, talked with the Master Gardener who was answering questions about Java, and took some photos.

Java 2.0. The opening near the bottom was made so it could be pollinated. In the wild, pollination would be carried out by insects.
Inside the semi-tropical greenhouse with the star of the show.

After getting my selfie-with-Java, I visited the Arid Greenhouse, where the century plant was blooming for the first and, as it turns out, only time in its 27 years.

The century plant’s swan song

Despite the name, it’s not true that the plant–Agave ocahui–blooms once every hundred years. The plant lives an average of 25-30 years, and blooms just before it passes on to that big greenhouse in the sky.

So, this past Friday I witnessed two singular botanical events. Not a bad way to spend the day.