Field of Science

Friday Fabulously Foul Flowers

No way TPP could possibly pass up sending this along.  Because humans seem to share a floral aesthetic with birds, bees, and butterflies, there is a mistaken impression that all flowers are attractive visually and pleasant smelling.  Suffice it to say that lots of pollinators have very different likes and things like beetles and flies pollinate lots of plants.  Someone put together this nice little photoessay of rather bad smelling flowers.  Perhaps the most famous of these, the corpse flower, was a subject of a blog sometime back.  Three of these are aroids, and the structures shown are not flowers, but inflorescences (a spike called a spadix) and a bract (called a spathe) that both subtends and wraps around the spadix.  The individual flowers are small and unattractive, and often unisexual and spatially separated.  TPP made the mistake of allowing one of these aroids to flower in his house, in February, and it smelled like a very dead cow.  Someone wasn't so fascinated by this!  The star-flowers (Stapelia) not only smell like carrion, their flowers look like carrion (hairy, fatty and dried blood colored, sort of leathery).  Very nice house plants.  Enjoy!

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