corpse flower

A Fetid Phenomena

As if 2016 hasn’t already been strange/horrible enough, now we have to contend with all of America’s Corpse Flowers mysteriously blooming at once. Over seven Corpse Flower in the US have bloomed within months of each other. Even the Denver Botanic Garden’s own “Little Stinker” made a showing this past Saturday (but has since closed up).

This is extremely unusual since there have only been 157 recorded corpse flower blooms ever between 1889 and 2008. This year in the US alone, at least seven flowers have bloomed. Typically the flowers only bloom about once every six years.

One of the most popular explanations for the rampant blooming is because US greenhouses and botanical gardens share seeds with one another, meaning most of the corpse flowers that are currently blooming are likely related (think: cousins). Or maybe this is just the stinky harbinger of events to come…

First Space Flower

First Ever Extra Terrestrial Zinnia Flower

First Space Flower

This orange beauty, bathing in natural sunlight for the first time, is the first Zinnia flower to have ever grown entirely in space. It’s part of the VEG-01 experiment on the International Space Station.

The Veggie experiments will allow the crew members to begin the first steps of in-orbit food production as well as educational outreach and recreation for long-duration missions. The experiment allows scientists to gain a better understanding of plant cultivation and will help determine ways to carry out self-sustaining life support systems during long distance space travel, possibly to Mars.

The facility has previously grown lettuce which was consumed by the crew last year. The next set of crops, called VEG-03, has two types of Chinese cabbage and more romaine lettuce. It will arrive at ISS in March via SpaceX’s CRS-8 mission. In 2018, NASA will send a set of dwarf tomato plants to ISS and we could witness crew members eating the first space salads.

Surprising, the Zinnia flowers almost died from over watering, a mold outbreak, and too much bureaucracy from NASA:

In late December, Kelly found that the plants “weren’t looking too good,” and told the ground team, “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”

The Veggie team on Earth created what was dubbed “The Zinnia Care Guide for the On-Orbit Gardener,” and gave basic guidelines for care while putting judgment capabilities into the hands of the astronaut who had the plants right in front of him. Rather than pages and pages of detailed procedures that most science operations follow, the care guide was a one-page, streamlined resource to support Kelly as an autonomous gardener. Soon, the flowers were on the rebound, and on Jan. 12, pictures showed the first peeks of petals beginning to sprout on a few buds.

Space Flower

Space FlowerAll photos via Scott Kelly/NASA

Flowers For Algerhubs

Today was great. When I came into the office this morning the receptionist called me up and told me I had a FedEx waiting up front. I told her, “Cool thanks. I’ll be up there in a bit,” thinking that the proof for a report I had sent to the printers had arrived. After an hour or so the receptionist called back and said that I had better come get the package because it may be urgent.

Well it was, because waiting up front for me was a box full of Winter Lillys. From out of nowhere. For no reason. And it totally made my week. They’re wonderful and they’re sitting in a big glass vase on my desk right now just itching to pop into bloom. I’ve never been sent flowers to the office before. It creates quite a commotion. Lots of people are asking questions I’m not used to answering. Words like “jealous” and “admirer” and phrases like “who is she?” and “you must have done something right” have been making me blush and stumble around all day. I love it. Thanks.