Top Ten List of Smelly Plants

While flowers typically attract humans and insects with their  beauty and luscious smell, some rather perverse stinking flowers entice flesh and fecal-loving insects to their foul-smelling blooms in the guise of meat, which include some of the largest and most bizarre flowers in the world. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the list of 10 smelliest plants in the world.


1. Titan Arum

Titan Arum

This huge plant is often referred to as the corpse flower. It’s three meters tall when fully grown and emits a horrible stench that people flock to from around the world. It takes a long time to reach full size and when it gets there it will begin to heat up to somewhere around human body temperature. This helps to intensify its smell, which attracts pollinators.

Because of its bad odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is characterized as a carrion flower, and is also known as the corpse plant. The title “corpse flower” is also similar to the genus Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, grows in the rainforests of Sumatra.

In 2003, the tallest bloom in cultivation (2.74 m high) was recorded at the Botanical Garden of the University of Bonn in Germany. The event was acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records.


2. Talipot Palm

Talipot Palm

This tree is around six to eight meters tall and at the top branches out with loads of little flowers. It only flowers once in its life span, when it’s about 30 to 80 years old. It takes about a year for the flowers to become fruit and after fruiting it then dies. It smells sweet and the sap is used for palm wine.

The flowering Talipot Palms have been the focus of attention for the past few months at Singapore Botanic Gardens. It is a majestic sight and a lifetime treat to see the massive flowering structure.


3. Rafflesia arnoldii

Rafflesia arnoldii

This is the largest flower in the world and it grows on the floor of rainforests. It doesn’t have the usual parts — such as leaves, roots or stem — as other flowers because it doesn’t need them. It gives off a stench of rotting flesh, which attracts carrion flies.

Before it flowers it is almost invisible, it then grows into a cabbage-like plant that opens into the huge flower that only lasts for a few days. There’s a lot that’s not known about how the plants reproduce as scientists are struggling to recreate the environment in which the plant lives. Because of this, they haven’t been able to fully study them.


4. Dead Horse Arum Lily

Dead Horse Arum Lily

This ornamental plant is native to the Mediterranean region and gives off a smell of carrion to attract blowflies and other insects. It’s a rare thermogenic plant, which means it can raise its temperature to attract even more insects.

Female flies are attracted to the flower because they normally lay their eggs in carrion. When they crawl inside the flower, they become trapped for up to six hours until the male parts of the flower begin to produce pollen. The chamber then opens and, as the fly leaves, it brushes past the pollen and then carries it to other flowers, fertilizing them in the process.

After observing the effect the flowers have on the flies, the researchers wanted to know exactly what the flies were responding to. So they exposed fly antennae – which act as the insect’s ‘nose’ – to chemical odorants from both the flower and from rotting meat.


5. Hydnora African 

Hydnora African

This is a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of the Euphorbiceae species that grows underground in the deserts of South Africa.

The flesh-coloured flower emerges from the soil and gives off a smell of faeces to attract pollinators such as dung beetles and carrion flies. The flower will trap the beetles that enter so they can cover themselves in pollen. Then when the flower fully opens again they are allowed to leave.


6. Voodoo Lily

Voodoo Lily

This large lily gives off a smell similar to a rotting carcass in order to attract Lucilia flies and other insects. The plant traps them for a full day and night then releases them with lots of pollen.

Flies and other insects with an appetite for destruction are drawn to the horrific smell, thinking a feast of decay awaits. In their search for a meal, the flies pick up pollen and inadvertently provide pollination services to the flowers.

The voodoo lily belongs to the same family as the aptly named corpse flower, which employs the same smelly pollination ploy. (Here’s how one visitor familiar with the corpse flower compared the two, Thomas recalled: “He decided that ours was actually stinkier,” Thomas said. “We kind of like that.”)


7. Jack the Pulpit

Jack the Pulpit

Above the male flowers there is a ring of hairs that act as an insect trap. The pollinators get trapped and covered in the plant’s pollen as they try to escape.

All parts of the plant can cause an allergic reaction and some parts give off heat and odor to attract insects.

Cattle should not be grazed in wooded pastures at any time when jack-in-the-pulpit is one of the few green plants available. Although there is no satisfactory way of eradicating it, its numbers will be considerably lessened if it is consistently dug when seen .


8. Star Flowers

Star Flowers

These succulents grow amazing hairy flowers that give off the smell of rotting flesh. They blooms are very big and the larger the species the more
pungent the scent. The hairs on the flower are there to resemble a layer of mould that grows on rotting meat.

Blow flies act as pollinators and a lot of flies will actually lay their eggs inside the flower, as they would with a rotting carcass


9. Carrion Flowers

Carrion Flowers

There are a number of flowers that look and smell like rotting meat in order to attract insect that will pollinate them. A lot of species will trap the insects after luring them in, letting them go only when they’ve collected enough pollen. However, carrion flowers don’t reward the insects that pollinate them with nectar like most other flowers.


10. Western Skunk Cabbage

Western Skunk Cabbage

This plant gets its name from the skunk-like odor it lets off to the entire surrounding area. The smell can even be noticed in very old, dried out specimens. The foul smell attract pollinators, beetles and other insects. It’s found in damp areas such as swamps and wooded areas.





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