Pitara Kids Network

Beautiful Flowers that Stink!

A blow-fly was looking for an ideal place to lay eggs. Like rotting meat. So that when her little maggots were born, they could feed on the meat.

As she turned a corner in the grassland, she smelt something stinking in the air. The smell of rotten meat! With great joy she perched on it and laid her eggs. She was happy that her children would have enough food to eat.

Stinking Plants [Illustration by R. Shridevi]

The blow-fly did not know she had made a great mistake. What she had sat upon was not meat but a flower, which stinks. It is called a carrion flower.
So, when the blow-fly’s eggs hatched and the little maggots came out, they had nothing to eat. They died of starvation.

The carrion flower is one of the many flowers which give out dirty smells to attract flies. The Rafflesia stinks like rotting meat, while the tropical Lords and Ladies flower gives out a smell like rotting fish.

A star shaped succulent Stapelia: Most Stapelia flowers are visibly hairy and generate the odour of rotten flesh

They do it for a special reason. Unlike mating birds, these plants cannot move from their place. But it is important for the male cell of one plant to get in touch with the female cell of another plant. Once that is done, the seed of the plant will bloom and give birth to another plant.

A Stapelia in bloom : many of the commonly grown Stapelia flowers smell of rotting meat and are sometimes called “carrion flowers”

The plant uses its stink to attract flies. As soon as the blow-fly sits on the flower, it is captured by the flower with strong hair. When the hair falls, the fly is free to fly – but it takes some pollen with it. And goes and sits on another plant. The male cell of one plant meets the female cell of the other. The seed gets new life.