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Garden in the City: Punked by the Corpse Flower? See Zombie Bloom Instead

By Patty Wetli | September 4, 2015 5:52pm | Updated on September 8, 2015 7:48am

LINCOLN SQUARE — Well that was fun, getting punked by the corpse flower.

Remind me again why we all were waiting with bated nostrils to get a whiff of death?

Meanwhile my very own Helianthus annuus, set to bloom, hand to god, any day now, has garnered zippo attention for lack of a PR-friendly nickname and the promise of a hella stench.

We'll fix that.

The Zombie Flower, set to bloom any day now. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

Meet the Zombie Flower.

This shape-shifting, undead species CANNOT BE KILLED.

Oh, believe me, many a landscaper has tried, mistaking the Zombie's spring shoots for weeds. Joke's on you, lawnmower man. You can whack a Zombie's stem down to the nubbin, but Zombie doesn't die.

Instead Zombie regenerates, spreading its tentacles (technically rhizomes) underground and resurfacing where least expected.


[via GIPHY Cratermania.Tumblr.com]

Chop off its head and it grows another. Then another. Left unchecked, Zombie will devour every other species in its path.

Intrigued? Wait, there's more.

Every winter, Zombie fakes its own demise only to rise again from its thawed-out grave, stronger and in greater numbers than before.

Though its stalks are barely perceptible at first, Zombie reaches ever upward, attaining heights immeasurable by this gardener, as they are over her five-foot one-inch head.

All summer Zombie bides its time. While other plants blossom and bloom in a riot of purple and pink and red and white, Zombie lies in wait, cloaked in a tangle of leaves that hide the flower's true purpose.

Only when its companions begin to fade does Zombie make its move.

Tiny bumps, no bigger than a pin head, begin to appear at the tip of the stalk. They expand slowly, scarcely enough to notice at first, but then miniscule increment by miniscule increment they begin to assert their presence.

I've been examining the buds daily this last week, looking for chinks in the calyx (the covering that protects a flower before it opens). When it shows signs of cracking, petals are sure to follow.

I know, not nearly as dramatic of a signal as the moment when the corpse flower's "water broke." Then again, that turned out to be much ado about nothing, didn't it?

I wait, surprisingly patiently. I bow to whatever biological alarm clock Helianthus annuus is set to, and I trust I will be rewarded.

My limited experience tells me that when my Zombies do show their faces, they will look like the variety of miniature perennial sunflowers that they actually are. Soon — maybe tomorrow, maybe next week — I'll be greeted by a host of cheerful yellow-orange blossoms.

When the Zombie Flower blooms, it's definitely worth the wait. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

I'll admit, on paper (or your web browser), that doesn't sound as exciting as the corpse flower. But it's no less thrilling to me, for being less rare or sensational.

We've been bombarded these past couple of weeks with "end of summer" messages. The calendar has flipped to September, kids are heading back to school and the thing that rhymes with "solar goretex" is right around the corner.

Then along comes this ray-of-sunshine of a flower that says, "Hold on, not so fast. There's some life left in this season yet."

Yeah, I'll take that over the smell of death.

Not exactly a livestream:

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