Monday, August 3, 2015

Stinky, but fascinating...

Stapelia are low-growing succulent perennials predominantly from South Africa, with a few coming from other parts of Africa. I picked my Stapelia up during the spring 50% off sale at Digs Inside & Out, I had an empty hanging container and thought it’s sea creature-like appearance would be a fun addition to the garden.

I never dreamt it would bloom, that wasn’t even a consideration when purchasing. But it is!

I’ve spent the last few weeks watching this balloon-like bud get bigger and bigger, this photo was taken on July 26th.

I should have taken a photo when it first started to form, it was obvious right away that it was going to be a bloom, it looked a lot like the circled bits in this photo. Although I’ve been watching them for a while now too and they don’t appear to be doing anything.

This photo is from Friday, July 31st. The “seams” kept getting more and more pronounced, I was sure it was going to open before the day was over. It didn’t. The next morning it looked the same. I checked on it at about 9:30 am and still the same.

But by 10:00 this is what I found…

It was quite dramatic, I was instantly obsessed...

Isn't it beautiful?

The edges have long hairs but there are shorter ones all over the surface.

It was going to be another sunny hot day (98 F) and I feared the heat would exhaust the flower before Andrew got to see it...

So I moved my canvas patio umbrella into place for the day (remember I mentioned that I was obsessed...).

I even had to measure it.

About a half hour later the petals had started to arch backwards.

By the time I returned home 3 hours later they had really curled back.

My favorite of the common names for this plant is the African starfish, carrion flower is the usual choice. According to PlantZAfrica: “The hairs, coloration and surface mimic decaying animal matter and attract mostly flies, which act as pollinators. The strong carrion scent is sometimes recognizable at a great distance, especially on hot afternoons.” Indeed the scent got much stronger as the day went on. At first I had to stick my nose up near the flower to detect it, later just walking by it was evident. Customers started showing up too.

Lots of them, the flower was never empty.

There is an interesting article on the life-cycle of the Green Bottle Fly (what I think these are) here.

Eggs kept piling up, evidently..."The time spent in the egg stage of the life of the Common Green Bottle Fly is very short. Depending on the weather, eggs can hatch anywhere from 8–10 hours to three days. The warmer and moister the environment is, the shorter the hatching time will take. Some cases during summer months have been found where the eggs seem to hatch almost immediately." (source)

While it all was a little unpalatable it was also too bizarre to not keep watching.

Oh and this is what I found on the wall underneath after leaving Lila unattended for a few minutes. Her nose was working overtime to locate the source of the odor. It was only a matter of time before she tried to get close.

Five of them, this was most I managed to capture in a photo, but there were swarms all around.

As I write this it's Sunday evening and the scent (and the attention it's receiving) have both faded. The flower is still quite remarkable. I wonder how long it will last?

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

40 comments:

  1. Awesome. Although for once I think I'm just happy enough to read about it on your blog.. !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not wishing for smell-o-vision huh?

      Delete
  2. What a cool flower! I'd be obsessed too. I got a different Stapelia from Matthew at the fall plant swap last year, it's still living, so maybe I'll have a similar flower some time in the future. I wonder what happens to the fly eggs when they hatch and discover there's no food?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poor things! Actually late yesterday afternoon I noticed a few had fallen to the ground and the ants were going to town on them.

      Delete
  3. I love them! My Stapelia grandiflora usually blooms in the fall, but it's in the shade. Knowing how much dogs love stinky smells, I'm not surprised Lila went a little crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you'll post photos when it blooms, unless you have previously and I'm forgetting.

      Delete
  4. That was truly fascinating! Thanks for documenting it and sharing it. I loved the way you built the suspense--I was on the edge of my seat. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. Seriously though it was pretty cool. I even grabbed the neighbor to come see it!

      Delete
  5. Beautiful, but knowing how other carrion-scented blooms smell I'm glad I just have to look at the photos. I'll say it again: beautiful! (I especially like the photo looking up in which the sky is visible!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah, it wasn't that bad. Small price to pay for watching all the action.

      Delete
  6. It looks extra cool in that fab hanging container!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stapeliads are the best. It turns out that I don't have adequate sun in the house to get some of them to bloom, but Huernia schneideriana and H. oculata bloom decently for me in a west window, and neither has a detectable odor.

    Stapelia variegata has neat but smelly flowers; Huernia zebrina flowers are odorless as far as I can tell but are weird enough that they may not appeal to everybody. And Stapelia gigantea makes huge flowers with some odor; I haven't found it particularly objectionable unless pretty close, but you do notice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you've got quite the collection. All of the flowers you've posted about are fabulous, smell or no smell. I can see this might become addictive.

      Delete
  8. Wow. Super wow. Every time I tell myself, I'm no danger gardener and need to accept that I won't take proper care of exotics. And then I see a post like this, oh hell, I think I NEED that. But when I properly calm down, I think, wait a second. I can visit that plant, easily! So if you would just keep up the good work, that would be awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll see what I can do...(and if not for those pesky kitties I'd be encouraging you to try this one, it's easy!).

      Delete
  9. I picked up a small plant last year but didn't give it proper attention (meaning water) and lost it. The flowers are fascinating, although I admit I'm put off by the scent issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Outside they're not horrible, but I can't imagine having one in the house.

      Delete
  10. Mine has more graphic markings and folds itself up like a piece of origami as it finishes blooming. I had it on Richard's desk until he asked me to move it because of the smell. It now sits on my desk and I don't smell a thing. I love the way the dark stems look against your house color

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine is doing the origami thing today, quite interesting still. When I bought it was green, then upon going outside for the summer it turned deep purple. The new growth though was green - so that created quite the contrasty plant.

      Delete
  11. It is a beautiful plant! isn't it? I'm happy yours bloomed!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Woa. That is one interesting bloom. Not sure that one is on my list to dry....I have a hard enough time just dealing with stinky daisy's. But...super cool to read about!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet your kids would love it...

      Delete
  13. Fascinating! I don't think I've heard of that one before. I'm trying to imagine the scent and thinking it's like Red Trillium (T. erectum), which also smells like carrion. The Red Trilliums in my garden are far from the house, but wow--this one is so unique it's worth a little stench to see the amazing bloom and the flies and all. Cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting I've never heard that some Trillium blooms have the carrion odor!

      Delete
  14. Eeeewwwww...the whole "accumulation of fly eggs" thing really put that over the top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand that, it is a little stomach turning.

      Delete
  15. Mine normally last a few days (less if I've watered and they get wet, for some reason). They're so gross but so interesting. I loved the scratch marks on the side of the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine clocks in at 3 days, which is enough. I can't imagine how many eggs there would be if it lasted longer!

      Delete
  16. Gross but fascinating! Although when I saw the first shot of the unopened flower, I thought it was going to burst opening and start singing, "Feed me, Seymour!"

    ReplyDelete
  17. Stapeliads are awesome! I grew Stapelia gigantea and a couple of other species many years ago, in another lifetime. I had S. gigantea bloom in my college dorm room--all my friends wanted to see it and I had flies batting against the screen trying to get in! One got in, and I discovered (to my horror) that some flies don't lay eggs, they gave live birth and tiny maggots squirmed around looking for something to eat...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG! You're kidding!? I suppose you're not. That's just a little gross...

      Delete
  18. How fun is that? Such a huge flower, no wonder Lila wanted to get closer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it smelled so tasty! (to her...but she eats cat poop)

      Delete
  19. Hehe, I love these strange blooms. I had Stapelia variegata and Huernia zebrina, but neither performed well in the house over winter. Definitely need to get the latter again. Stapelia gigantea flowers can be over 15 inches across. I ran across one blooming in a sitting area in a building at WSU once. The scent wasn't too objectionable. Are you going to start another plant craze? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I might have to get a Huernia zebrina someday, that flower is just beyond whacked. A plant craze, me?

      Delete
  20. Whoa! I first thought, so cool! Then, I saw all the fly eggs. Sooooo disgusting.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is fascinating, and I want one. It could keep my Amorphophallus company.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!