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.

13 comments:

  1. mmm, carrion flower. it's like durian. the funny part was that I hadn't read the title of your post, and only saw the flower picture and thought "that looks like one of those flowers that will smell like death"

    What's the news on the baby chicks?

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    1. The babies are getting so big. Luckily, we were able to finish building their new coop today. They really needed more space. The new coop is awesome. Richard has done a wonderful job. Pics will be coming soon.

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  2. I don't know. I might just leave it in the shade!

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    1. LOL! Cat, that would be a smart idea.

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  3. My Grandmother had this plant growing on her back patio. I never noticed the smell, but I was kid though. Probably didn't bother me then because I was busy playing.

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    1. You were probably so busy playing that you didn't think about sticking your nose into a smelly plant. You were a smart kid.

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  4. These grow in the hell strip of one of my parent's neighbor's in Brownsville. I guess hot brutal conditions make them bloom. I never got close enough to get a whif and I'm GLAD!

    Cindy S.

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    1. Wow, a whole hell strip of those would be pretty cool to see. I bet that would attract a few flies.

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  5. Ha- admire from afar and stay upwind indeed. Bizarre looking flower- I love finding new unusual things. Very nice to have met you and your husband yesterday. Enjoyed our visit!

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    1. It's always nice to meet a fellow blogger. You and your husband have a beautiful place. Thanks for showing us Kermit's home. Sorry we didn't get to meet him. Maybe next time.

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  6. I used to have one of these and was in awe when it flowered. I'd love a passalong stem if you have one to spare.

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    1. I'll be happy to passalong a stem to you. If I can, I will bring it with me tomorrow.

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  7. MIne just bloomed in the front yard. Mine is more of a pink color though. I'm glad I didn't think to bend down and smell it!

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