Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carrion by any other name would smell ...

That cactus (succulent is more accurate) that's summering on my back step burst into bloom sometime just after lunch Tuesday and here it is in its full glory.

And, just as Mary Ellen had warned when she turned it over to me, the bloom smells not unlike a dead mouse --- if you stick your nose into it, which of course I did. Otherwise, blooming outside, you don't notice it. It's called Stapelia gigantea, carrion cactus or carrion flower. Interesting stuff.

And an interesting strategy for survival since it depends upon flies, bettles and other critters attracted to rotting flesh to pollinate. It's attracting plenty of flies this afternoon, but no self-respecting bee would look at it twice.

Mary Ellen also warned that a bloom was a sign of impending death. Not to worry. These plants, native to South Africa, are supposed to bloom in September or thereabouts. By the way, if you're sensitive to pollin, don't stuck your nose in it. As I said, I did --- and regret it.

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