Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Smelled This Flower So You Don't Have To!

As a public service, I have sniffed this newly opened Dracunculus vulgaris (dragon arum) so you don't need to. Now, as a guy, I am genetically somewhat immune to gross stuff; I remember hearing about a survey taken amongst young boys, asking them what they most remembered about the ancient Egyptians, from studying them in school. To a lad, they said the one thing they remembered was that when the Egyptians were mummifying the dead, they sucked the brains out through the nose with a straw (I suspect this answer was usually followed by a loud "EEEEW!"). However, I must admit, even though I am as a male not repelled by squirmy or foul things, to me the smell of this flower is just... well, awful. After checking it out in the back ravine where it is blooming, I feared the odor was permanently imprinted in my nose, then realized I was just still smelling it clear across the garden , two city blocks away, uphill and upwind. Let's say your Uncle Ralphy was a bit daft; he'd drive around and collect roadkill, which he'd take home with him. After a while he got really difficult, and stopped paying his utility bill because he thought the electricity in the wiring was affecting his brain, so the utility company shut off everything. After a few months of him sitting in the dark with no bath, you had to commit him to a nursing home, and a few months after that he died. Well, when you finally had time you went over to his house to clear things out, and opened up the warm freezer, which turned out to be where he was storing all his roadkill. I believe this plant smells a little worse than that (note the American carrion beetles munching on the spathe).
No thanks are necessary...
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We just our freezer circuit trip. Took us four days to notice it. We cleaned it out Sunday morning. Thursday is our trash day.

I believe I have that odor wafting from my trash can right this moment.

All I can say is, salmon does not do well in Phoenix's desert heat. Whoosh.

Jenn/Garden Djinn
Must be where the vulgaris comes from. :-) Wiki says it smells like carcass...a rather old one, I assume? It sure is purdy, though.
I'll confess that when I had the opportunity to sniff this flower, I declined. Thanks for sniffing it for me.
Thanks for doing such a public service, Don.
I think looking at this wonderful picture on your blog as as close as I want to get.
Being pregnant with a very acute sense of smell right now, I probably would of keeled over.
~plantgirl of
Plantgirl's Square Foot Garden

Hi Don, I hadn't realized you had a vulgaris, but should have figured you would, lol. Our is at the shriveling up stage right now (I have yet to get pics though), but it was truly spectacular this year and stunk to high heaven the first couple of days, then backed off. But doesn't it give you a sense of pride that you have something most gardeners wouldn't dream of having? (But then, you have everything so you're probably jaded!) This is the one that started us on our quest for more and more Arums, and you have been a great resource for us, thanks!

Which reminds me, we still have to get that Voodoo Lily in real soon before it starts to try to grow indoors! We're also going to put some A. italicum in the fall. Do those stink too or have you gotten close enough to know?
I can't believe that a flower attracts a carrion beetle. Wow, that must be some stench.
Jenn... yah, nothing like old fish!

Nancy... it REALLY is a bad smell when it first opens. Creepy.

MMD... you're welcome (I think).

Karen... you didn't miss anything!

Plantgirl... I wouldn't be surprised.


IVG... I don't think Italicum smells, though I've never stuck my nose in one.

gardenista... It's worse than bad.

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