Bring on the Funk

We’ve been lucky this week to experience funk in two ways – the wonderful sounds of funk at the Funk Festival, and the amazing funky smell of the blooming corpse flower.

The Funk Festival

The Funk Festival this year – the first since the start of the pandemic – was small and missing the mega-popular parade, but it was still great to get to hear all the music.

©Miki Jourdan
©Rob Klug
©Stacey Lewis
©Miki Jourdan
©Victoria Pickering
NIA MONAÉ. ©Miki Jourdan
Naptown Brass Band. ©Rob Klug
Roquois. ©Miki Jourdan
©Miki Jourdan
©Miki Jourdan
Too Much Talent Band ©Victoria Pickering

The Corpse Flower

There are less than 1,000 corpse flowers still left in the wild. The U.S. Botanic Garden carefully cultivates a few corpse flower plants, and it is always exciting to get to see one bloom. Usually there is a wait of multiple years between blooms, but this year has been a banner year with several plants blooming. This week the Botanic Garden lent one of its plants to the Smithsonian Gardens, and it opened on Wednesday morning.

©Victoria Pickering
©Angela N.

The powerful smell attracts insects needed for pollination.

©Angela N.

It’s wonderful to get to see the plant outdoors now, but we also miss the intense smell of experiencing it indoors at the Botanic Garden. Prior to this year, the garden has had blooms in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020. Given the unpredictability of the bloom cycle, each blooming has always been a special event, often with more than two hour waits to see it – for example, in 2017 the Garden counted 130,000 visitors during the couple of days of the blooming, and 650,000 watching the live stream.

Line stretching blocks at 9:30 on a hot night in 2016 ©Angela N.
2016. ©Angela N.
2017. ©Victoria Pickering
2013 ©Angela N.

In 2017, there was the extreme rarity of two plants blooming at the same time.

©Angela N.

If you read this article soon after publication, you may be in time to see the bloom, but it is likely to be dying very soon. Even so, the dying bloom is worth seeing. –

2017. ©Victoria Pickering

And if you want to find out more about why and how it smells, watch this:

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