Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ugly / Smelly Plants - Berry Go Round April 2013 Edition

For this roundup of Berry-Go-Round, we cast our spot-light on a shadowy corner of botanical curios that challenge our olfactory and aesthetic senses (and oftentimes, both) and test the limit of our love of plants.

Amorphophallus prainii
Skunk Cabbage
After many months of snowy winter in the Northern hemisphere, one of the first Spring blooms Tracey encountered in the swamps was non other than the dark and brooding skunk cabbage. Aaahh .... the smell of Spring. Over at the Pacific Coast Dana caught sight of its more cheerful but equally  odoriferous cousin. One thing about the Aroid family is that there's no shortage of smelly ugly plants, and the biggest of them all is a 2 metre tall foul spouting chimney -  Amorphophallus titanum - go see for yourself. Right over at Carnosa, Boon Leng has some collections of Amorphophalluses in the wild - A. prainii is a particularly stinky one. I have been a fan of these aroids for a while and sometime back, 4 species rewarded me with blooms all at once. Admittedly, no mother will say her child is ugly, likewise a gardener, his plants. But has your child ever mimic a corpse with a hairy tail ? Well, Real Monstrosities featured a dead horse arum that smelled like one too. 

Out in the desert, Fireflyforest had a all-too-close encounter with the aptly named stink gourd and came back wishing they had bought deodorant. More ungainly than ugly, I cannot stop grinning at this unorthodox Saguaro specimen. At the other side of the world, somewhere in Nambib Desert to be precise, Tarmo RTW has wonderful pictures of the ancient Welwitschia mirabilis that sometimes had one wondering if its still alive - or had been alive. At the garden of PATSP, another xerophyte, Stapelia gigantea, unleashed its bristly bloom that smelled of dog faeces ....

Underground Orchid
Vines....how bad can they get ? Well I can assure you Aristolochia gigantea is a real shocker and its smaller cousin Pararistolochia promissa reeks of really bad seafood. Orchids too ? Yes - in fact this family is so diverse that its unsurprising some of them can be unconventional due to their extreme adaptations. Take the Bulbophyllums for example, this is a genus of many carrion-fly pollinated flowers and so they have to smell and look like the flies favourite haunt - rotting fruits or carcasses. Zul's Orchid craze featured one of these -  Bulbophyllum graveolens, and PBG Blog showcased the giant Bulbophyllum beccarii from Borneo- from the smell, you would have thought somebody had died there. And what about the totally weird looking saprophytic orchid Galeola , with its sausage-like pods and the fantastic underground orchid - Rhizanthella gardneri ? Yes, I just said an underground orchid, though I am as baffled as you especially after looking at the closeups

And finally, let's look at some parasitic plants - this is where the experiments run wild on stolen rations. First off, Hydnora - from Real Monstrosities excellent photos I thought I was staring at an alien rupture. And from Jungle Mike's incredible adventures, the bizarre Rafflesia and its hair-raisingly ugly cousin Rhizanthes lowii

Well, that sums it up for now - I fear some readers may have reached their threshold for smelly ugly things. 

Berry-Go-Round is a blog carnival of botanical things and they welcome contributors and hosts alike - do check it out



Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Not all plants are beautiful with a sweet scent. The ones you posted might be the ugly sisters, but in my view they are stunning in an odd wonderful way.I grew ones a Stapelia, very big, dark red Tulip like blooms, it smelled badly. In the rainy season we get many odd looking fungi. They ooze something dark brown looking like faeces. Also very smelly.

Hort Log said...

thanks for dropping by - its always nice to hear from you.

Nook Naturalists said...

Very nice roundup, Hort Log! Thanks for a most intriguing edition of BGR.

I have also been browsing all your Hoya posts-- that genus is a favorite of mine, but of course our options in growing them are limited here in US. Thanks for showing us some of the diversity!

Hort Log said...

Hi NN, thanks for dropping by.

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