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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Gift that Keeps Giving

Looking back in the archives I see the starfish or carrion flower (Stapelia sp) I was given by my nephew first bloomed September 20 last year. It's been in bloom a few weeks now, so that means for two years running stapelia has bloomed close after the autumn equinox. About the time the flies have gotten the sense their time is quickly coming to an end, so it's breed now or forever hold your genes.

So at this opportune time the stapelia kicks in with its rotten meat odor to attract desperate flies like this green bottle fly here (Lucilia sericata) to lay masses of eggs in the centers of the enormous (dare I refer to them as) blossoms. If you want to try growing the carrion flower, know that it grows readily from a cutting; mine fares well in the shade; place the plant when in bloom far from outdoor activity areas if possible, unless you enjoy the scent of ground beef well past its expiration date. There is nothing for the maggots to eat in the center of the flowers so they die there or drop off onto the soil and die.

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