No, this isn't a mutant daffodil from outerspace. It's part of the educational display at the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. This museum-like wing of the conservatory is the best botanical educational exhibit I've ever seen. I could have spent hours in there, but I was visiting with family. (I don't like spending hours touring battleships, so I don't expect anyone to spend hours looking at plants.)
But of course, most people come to a botanical garden looking for real plants. I really liked this orchid, and although I'm no orchid guru, I haven't seen anything like it before. The orchid room contained this plant and dozens of other orchids in full bloom. (If you are really into orchids, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Missouri Botanical Garden have even more extensive collections.)
The conservatory is very lovely. I liked the layout, featuring several rooms with joining courtyards. The houses were recently refurbished, too, and everything is well maintained. One of my favorite rooms in any big conservatory is the "desert room." This agave is nestled among the cacti.
I was surprised at the location; we stumbled across it on the way to the Capital Building! It's located right along the mall area. It's nice that the US Botanical Garden provides a green oasis among all the stark marble, but the drawback is that there isn't much room for actual gardens. Keep in mind, though, that visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden and Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne have probably set the bar too high for me as far as botanical gardens. I thought to deserve the name "US botanical garden" there should be acres and acres of gardens, so I was a little disappointed. But the conservatory definitely makes it worth a visit!