Friday, February 5, 2010

The Carrion Flower

The Carrion Plant (Stapelia gigantea) is a rather inconspicuous plant when not in bloom.  This lanky, hanging succulent thrives in dry conditions.

The Carrion Plant (Stapelia gigantean)
However, the large bud that forms on a happy plant will alert you that something is about to happen.

Stapelia gigantea bud
These buds open to form a huge flower that looks a lot like a starfish.  You might wonder about the name, and don't worry, I'm going to tell you.  This plant is called "Carrion Plant" because of the pungent smell that attracts flies to pollinate the blooms.  I came across this plant blooming at the Myriad Gardens last weekend as I was weeding.  I had actually walked by the plant about 10 times before I noticed it.  Thankfully I had to weed on the ground where the bloom happened to be laying or I would have never noticed.

Stapelia gigantea bloom
I was surprised to find that the strong smell I heard about was very localized.  It was only apparent when I put my nose very close to the bloom (within an inch of the center).  I imagine there is probably a point in the life of the bloom where the smell is more prevalent, in order to lure in flies that happen to be flying more than an inch away from the bloom.  Either that or flies have much better noses than I do. :)


  1. Beautiful flower and so unique!

  2. ...this reads like the promo of a detective story...!
    So, does the carrion plant lure flies into its pollen stalks to invite fertilization, or... for something else...?!

  3. *sigh* Someday. . . .

    I have a Stapelia at home that has repeatedly begun to bud, then aborted. I don't know what the problem is. But someday. . . .

  4. Spectacular! Why in the world give something so lovely such a horrible name? I understand it smells a bit, but honestly...