Thursday, July 1, 2010

They’re Creepy and They’re Kooky

Hundreds of Berkeley gardeners, topiary stylists, organic produce micro-farmers, and aficionados of heirloom tomatoes have been hiking and biking up Centennial Drive to visit my alma mater’s Botanical Garden. Where do all the sandal prints lead? To the greenhouse, of course: a foul-smelling giant misshapen penis plant is blooming.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Carolyn Jones has the story. [Carolyn Jones? Boy, that takes me back. Gomez: “I’m quite proud of Mrs. Addams’ hothouse. She’s raised these plants from tiny weeds.”]

Jones quotes Berkeley gardener Gary Cromp—he’s the guy in the accompanying photo who appears to be wearing a hand-woven, fair-trade Peruvian hat decorated with filamentous fungus. Check it out; you’ll be seeing them in Whole Foods next month.
“Watching these plants bloom—I’ve made it my life’s mission,” he said. “I am obsessed.”
I won’t argue with that. Besides, the Dead don’t play much since Jerry died so traveling cross-country from one botanical garden to another to sniff penis blossoms is a good way to fill one’s days.

Ms. Jones makes Berkeley’s specimen sound like a tranny: “the frilly skirt of the flower was 34 inches wide and its central phallus was nearly four feet tall.” To underscore the point she provides this quote:
“It’s very masculine and very feminine at the same time,” said visitor Yoni Mayeri of Orinda.
Yoni? Where does she find these people? Oh, right—it’s the Bay Area. [“Yoni, I’d like you to meet Bob Lingam—he’s from Moraga and teaches a Tantric sex workshop at Esalen.”]

Sigh. They’re really rather ooky.


Unknown said...

"sound like a tranny" - LOL

~x~ said...

it's good to wake up laughing when your mom's in town.
thank you.
she's more than a little kooky.

ElizabethN said...

Gotta love the Bay...we get all sorts of interesting folks! I went to see this flower on Wednesday and Thursday, seeing as my son loves it there, it was free on Thursday, and I live about ten minutes away. (I'm actually in the second photo in the article you mention) :-P

I have to say that I didn't catch a horrible stench, so I either missed the worst of it, or expected much worse.

Thanks for the post on this, and i look forward to your Mystery of Musk posts!

Nathan Branch said...

That hat! It's alive . . .

Avery Gilbert said...


OMG was that you buying organic arugula at Berkeley Bowl yesterday?

Avery Gilbert said...

Nathan Branch:

Reminds me of the wispy spores in the Donald Sutherland remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That means his hat's alive but he's just . . . a pod person!

Which explains why he's magnetically drawn to the flowering tuber and why he has little ones growing at home. We better quarantine Santa Mira before it's too late!

"Get on your radios and sound an all points alarm. Block all highways, stop all traffic, and call every law enforcement agency in the state. Operator, get me the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yes, it's an emergency!"

ElizabethN said...

Wasn't me, I shop at El Cerrito Natural Grocery.;-)