The Carrion Flower (Orbea variegata) may look pretty but don’t lean in for a sniff… you’ll regret it, unless you’re a blowfly or other insect attracted to the odor of rotting meat. Some of these plants (and their relatives of the Stapelia genus) are so good at imitating the aroma of carcasses, the flies they attract will often lay their eggs directly onto the flower – not great for the flies but good enough for the flowers! Flickr user Leonora (Ellie) Enking brings us the lovely “Starfish Flower” above. “This is not actually part of the Manor Nursery collection,” explains Enking, “this one lives at my house (in southern England). Boy, does it smell!”
The Titan Arum Lily (Amorphophallus titanum) has also been described as the world’s largest flower, although much of its size extends vertically as opposed to the more horizontal Rafflesia flower. The two big stinkers have another thing in common: both are native to the rainforests of Indonesia. The spectacular Titan Arum Lily above is, like many others of its kind, resident to a greenhouse far from its native land – in this case, the Berkeley Botanical Gardens in Oakland, California. Flickr user Jason Morrison snapped the truly titanic Titan Arum Lily there in July of 2008.
Native to Australia and known variously as the Starfish Fungus, Anemone Stinkhorn, and Sea Anemone Fungus Aseroe rubra is pretty much a Stinkhorn without the horn… though it definitely retains the stink! Flies attracted to the fungi’s nose-wrinkling reek derive nourishment from the icky slime exuded by the mature mushroom; then spread its spores when they visit other members of the species. Flickr user David Midgely snapped the brilliant Starfish Fungus above in his very own backyard garden on November 30th, 2007.
Don’t be put off by the Voodoo Lily’s latin name of Dracunculus vulgaris, this relative of the much larger Titan Arum Lily has other ways to put you off… your lunch! This native of southeastern Europe displays a beautiful purple coloration when mature but its main attraction is to flies, courtesy of the very unpleasant odor it emits. Flickr user Alwyn Ladell snapped the luscious Voodoo Lily above in Dorset, UK, in July of 2012.