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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.

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