Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Smell Dead Things

About 4 years ago, I received an easy to propagate, pass-along succulent plant.  The passer didn't know the name of the plant, which was fine with me, because I probably wouldn't have remembered the name anyway.  Have I ever mentioned I stink at remembering plant names? I need to work on that.

Anyway, because I didn't know the name of the plant, I had know idea what kind of care to give it.  I settled on a generic potting soil and provided it with a dappled shade position on my outdoor baker's rack for the summer.  I moved it indoors in the winter, just to be safe.

As luck would have it this year, some squirrels were playing on my baker's rack.  The little tree rats (as we lovingly refer to them) shattered the ceramic pot and sent the plant flying.  When I found it, I quickly re-potted it into the closest pot handy, set it down in what I thought was a shady spot, and promptly forgot about it.

One day when the sun was glaring down, the plant caught my attention again.  Oh crap, I thought.  I wondered how long I had left it in the sun.  Oh well, no harm, no foul, the plant looked fine, so I moved it back to it's spot on the baker's rack.

A few weeks passed and then I noticed some pods had formed.

Then, one of the pods opened into a spectacularly, unusual flower.

That's when I did something really stupid.  I walked over to the flower and took a big whiff.  Isn't that what you're supposed to do?  After all, it is a flower.  Turns out this is not sniffing flower.  This flower smelled like dead things.  Yuck!

Armed with my new clues, i.e. an unusual flower that smelled like dead things, I was able to identify the plant pretty quickly.  Aptly named as Carrion Flower, Stapelia gigantea, this plant is a native of South Africa and needs full sun to bloom.  Isn't it funny how those happy, little gardening accidents sometimes happen?

Carrion Flower attracts flies as pollinators by emitting a noxious, rotting meat odor.  I guess flies like that sort of thing.  Well, good for the flies.  From now on, I will admire this flower from afar and will stay upwind.