Botanical philosopher Norbert Peeters finds the lives of plants endlessly invigorating. At his local urban hothouse, surrounded by lush vegetation and chirping insects, a gigantic, phallic inflorescence is unfurling for the first time in over twenty years. Colloquially known as ‘the penis flower,’ the foul scent of the Amorphophallus is nearly intolerable. Yet its emergence has made international headlines and attracted a sea of visitors who queue to take a photo with the bulbous bloom. From the dusty journals of historical naturalists to the exploits of beloved British documentarian David Attenborough and the flower’s celebrity status in the present day, Norbert traces the cultural lineage of the Amorphophallus – a story ripe with controversy, allure and intoxication.
Many thanks to Roos Kocken (@plantwithroos) for her description of the Amorphophallus decus-silvae at Hortus Botanicus Leiden. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team.