Unusual Flora of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Our apartment is a tropical rainforest.

There are several reasons why I believe this to be the case. Exhibit A: The sweet potato forest that sprung up in our pantry recently. Exhibit B: ALL our houseplants have died in the last year—even the cactus, the last survivor, has been dropping limbs at an alarming rate. At first I thought they’d all died from neglect and lack of water, but thanks to Exhibits A and C I now suspect they died from too much H2O. Ahh, yes, Exhibit C, this morning’s discovery, which has us alternately appalled, amused, and frankly, frightened:

That’s a picture of a newly sprouted plant, about five inches long. Coming out of our kitchen ceiling. What. The. Hell?

Now, we live in a 100-year-old building, and to say that we’ve had a few leaks in the last year is an understatement. We’ve had a torrential downpour coming through the casement of our kitchen window. We’ve had water burble up between the floor tiles in our bathroom. We’ve had the upstairs neighbor’s washing machine overflow and rush down our kitchen wall. All of that was fixed, eventually. And then two weeks ago, we entered a whole new world of flood. A different upstairs neighbor’s bathroom sink was stopped up, so badly that it was somehow leaking into our kitchen, but in such a great woosh that giant bubbles now pocked the ceiling and our (relatively) freshly-painted walls. It took four days before a plumber could get over here to look at it, during which time we kept two buckets set up to catch the steady dripdripdrip of rusty water. When it was finally done I said a silent prayer of thanks to the God of Leaks, and S and I resumed normal kitchen activities.

Little did we know that our sub-tropical oasis in the middle of hipster Brooklyn still had a surprise in store.

So, anyone have any idea what it is? Some kind of rare orchid? A giant form of mold? An alien life force, implanted and preparing to take over? Whatever it is, it’s strong enough that it literally punched a hole through the latex paint covering our ceiling—in the picture you can see the slit we made to drain the leak, but for some reason it chose to bloom a few inches away.

The amazing thing is, we’re both quite certain that this little plant hadn’t yet debuted when we went to bed last night. And from the looks of the browned flower, it’s already past its prime—perhaps it was beautiful in the wee hours of the morning, when it first stretched its little head into our kitchen. In fact, I just went to take another look at it and it’s clearly dead—instead of that graceful arc, the shoot is now withered and sickly looking, hanging straight down to the floor. It’s given up its fight with gravity.

I can only hope that its roots aren’t fully embedded above our ceiling, and if it is an alien life form, that it hasn’t laid eggs.