Saturday, October 15, 2011
Some Flowers for October: part 1
I shambled into the backyard this morning, my mind in a bit of a fog thinking about corporate greed and all the bad that comes with it, when I noticed a stench of dead animal. Seriously, I was mincing my steps as I scoped out the vegetation for buggies and stuff, imagining my foot's encounter with a possible half-rotten carcass lurking under a dried-up fallen-over corn stalk or an overgrown buckwheat or something.
Then I remembered: it was the sweet smell of stapelia in bloom. This spring I divided my big old potted clump of stapelia gigantea, aka carrion flower, creating many more smaller plants. This succulent plant, a member of the milkweed clan, is ridiculously easy to grow and propagate. But once propagated bloom they will . . . beware the stench. One of the cuttings shown here with a big balloon-like bud and a withered up claw of a spent flower.
Flies are attracted by the smell and meat-like appearance of the flowers, and they actually lay eggs on the flowers which hatch, live for a few days, then die of hunger. The top photo shows a beetle of some unidentified sort that was also attracted to the flower. Here's a fly and the beetle. More about flies and stapelia here.