Ceratonia Siliqua- Carob Tree Flower
Starting off with a lightweight stinker, most of you probably know this one or have even encountered it face to face. Those of you who have, will probably know what I'm talking about. The scent of the flowers of the carob tree is reminiscent of semen. The carob tree is the only plant on this list pollinated by bees. Other pollinators may be flies, wasps, and even the wind. Its seeds contain gum, which is a common food thickener and stabilizer. Here's an interesting fact for you: since all the seeds of the carob fruit are identical in weight, ancient middle-easterners used to weigh precious stones using them as a measure of purity. The term "carat," used to measure the weight of diamonds, originates from the Arabic word for seeds- qirat.
Amorphophallus Titanium - Titan Arum
Moving up the stink-o-meter, we have this giant, also known as the corpse flower, which is a direct translation of its name from Indonesian. It can grow up to 6'6'' tall and 13'1'' wide. The flower itself blooms for merely 48 hours once every 6 to 7 years. The spadix (located in the middle of the flower) emits chemicals that smell like (hold your nose now) rotting onions, rotting cabbage, rotting fish, and old sweaty socks. This attracts its preferred pollinators: beetles and flies that lay their eggs in dead animals.
Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis - The Orchid
Yes, you read this correctly. This red hairy mess is an actual orchid. It consists of a cluster of 15 to 20 flowers covered with fleshy projections that are meant to resemble wriggling worms! This unpleasant theme is recurring on this list, as carrion flies are the main pollinators of many flowers featured in this collection. This is a pretty fast-evolving plant: it blossoms when it reaches the age of 2 years and no later than 3 years.
This one's rotting meat smell only lasts for a day, although the flower itself blooms for a few days in a row. Its dark purple spathe can grow up to 5 feet tall. Also known by the names voodoo lily and dragon wort, it really is a cunning voodoo-making flower: when an innocent carrion fly or beetle lands on the flower's spathe, it slips and slides down, unable to escape. The flower won't digest the bug, but it also won't let it out until it withers. Only then will the flies escape, coated with pollen. Besides being a sly flytrap, this plant is also poisonous, so you won't see any animal approaching it.
This little pesky flower is a parasitic plant that has no green photosynthetic tissue and not even roots. It grows completely underground and only emerges when it's time to bloom, which – you guessed it – has an odor like that of a rotting animal. An interesting fact about this one is that it has never been successfully grown in a domestic environment. Now, you would probably think, "Who in their right mind would want to grow this awful nuisance?" But you're in for a surprise - unlike the voodoo lily, this flower actually has tasty fruit with a medicinal value. Similar to the voodoo lily, Hydnora Africana traps its pollinators to make sure they gathered enough pollen, letting them go after one day only.
Helicodiceros Muscivorus-Dead Horse Arum
The Dead Horse Arum puts up its best efforts to disguise itself as a dead horse's behind. It has got short hairs like the ones on a horse, the round shape fits the part, and the hairy spathe represents the tail. It can grow up to 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. This clever flower can even generate its own heat to mimic the body heat of a horse. This flower takes its part of being a behind all the way to the max, but it gives the pollinator no nectar in return.
Rafflesia arnoldii may look like something that fits in a playground, but better not come close, it is not friendly at all. This one, holding the honorable title of being the biggest flower in the world, grows up to 3 feet across and weighs up to 24 pounds! It is parasitic, and just like the Hydnora Africana, we can only see its flowers when they're blooming for 5 days. This one emits heat to help its stench carry across distances, attracting carrion flies and beetles.
Symplocarpus Foetidus- Eastern Skunk Cabbage
This is a relatively compact fella, measuring between 1 and 3 feet tall. Like some of its colleagues, it can generate heat, but it uses it to burn through frozen grounds and layers of snow, as it blooms first thing in spring. It smells like decaying flesh and its fruits are widely avoided by animals since they cause a burning sensation when ingested. While the flowers bloom for a limited period of time, the plant itself can live for up to 20 years!
Think you've seen it all? Think again. This flower, also known as Starfish Flower or the Zulu Giant is actually widely grown domestically (obviously, in the open air) for its captivating beauty. This is despite being possibly toxic to both animals and humans. Besides being pollinated by carrion flies, attracted to the foul rotting smell, it is also wind-pollinated, which allows it to spread easily, so much so that, in Hawaii, it is considered an invasive species. The Stapelia Gigantea is a type of succulent, and as such, it doesn't have generous dimensions: it can only grow up to 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.
Which of our readers has a gut strong enough to adopt one of these culprits into their greenhouse?