When hung over a threshold at Christmastime, a sprig of mistletoe is a matchmaker; in the wild, the plant is a parasite known as the "thief of trees." Now, thanks to a recent study in Australia, mistletoe has a new reputation: forest savior. Field research indicates it's actually a beneficial plant, critical to a healthy ecosystem.
Despite its efforts to keep a low profile—lurking, as it tends to do, deep in Southeast Asia's undisturbed rainforests—the Rafflesia arnoldii has international notoriety. Its detractors might call it a hulking, smelly parasite, and they would not be wrong. It's the world's largest flower, and it smells like rotting meat.
In our latest column from Marigold and Mint, she takes us to the peony farms of Washington State, highlighting these majestic blooms and pairs the flowers with garden roses for arrangements and bouquets that are the delight of every summer bride.