The Carrion flower, or as it is commonly known, the Corpse flower, is a species of plant known for its red colored star shape and its horrendous smell of rotten flesh.
Yes, we know this may put some people aback at first, but once you come to understand this truly unique plant it will come to fascinate you.
And as the bees keep dying off you may see farmers using this plant to aid in pollinating their crops. You see, flies are drawn to the stench and then pollinate the plant. They also fly to neighboring plants thereby pollinating them as well.
Farmers could find themselves in a symbiotic relationship with the Corpse Flower, one born out of need that causes both to thrive.
Because these plants are considered rare and an endangered species, many people wish to grow their own, but can’t find the right information to help them.
So, we have gathered this list of helpful information that will help you grow and take care of your Carrion flower and save its species from extinction.
It is a plant that will be the center of attention in your garbed and will spark many a conversation as most of your guests will have no idea what it is.
You can coax them into going over and smelling it, with a big round of laughs and maybe a doggy bag to follow.
Either way, it’s sure to be a talking point at parties and gatherings.
What Is A Carrion Flower?
The Carrion flower, or commonly known as the Corpse flower or the stinking flower, is a species of flower that gives off a foul odor that is described as rotten meat, to attract flies and beetles to pollinate them.
These flowers are easily identified by their large star-shaped build with leaves that measure from 2 inches to 12 inches across. They are known for their common red color, but species may vary in yellow, brown, purple or a mixture of these colors.
Despite its unpleasant smell of an unwashed slaughterhouse, this smelly plant actually produces berries, but don’t eat them as they are poisonous to humans. It sprouts out blue berries that form together into a corn on a cob looking rod before it opens up and blooms.
The spadix of the flower is wrapped in a wavy leaf called a spathe. When it is time for the Carrion flower to bloom, it uncurls its spathe and reveals the inner flower. This is when the plant smells like rotten meat, it produces this bad smell to attract flies and beetles to pollinate it and spread it as far as possible.
There are many plants that are classified as a Carrion flower from their smell resembling rotten flesh with several varieties growing in the jungles of East Asia and South America.
A few of the plants that are classified as Carrion flowers are Amorphophallus, Rafflesia, Stapelia, Smilax or Nemexia and Bulbophyllum (Orchid). We leave this list open as science is discovering new ones on a regular basis.
In fact, they have just discovered one that actually blooms under water in lakes in South America as well. This plant is yet unclassified as scientist are still studying it.
It appears to work by releasing its foul stench into the water attracting small fish, shrimps and other creatures who then go to the next one and ‘pollinate it’. We say that cautiously because scientists have said that they are not 100% sure if pollination is the proper term.
This should not be mistaken with underwater plants like certain seaweeds that die off in mass. They wash ashore and the whole coastline smells like rotten eggs for a month.
No, these types of plants open up for pollination and use the smell to attract flies, beetles and other insects that it relies on to pollinate them by going flower to flower.
What Is The Common Name Of The Carrion Flower?
The common name of the Carrion Flower species is “Corpse flower” and “Stinking flower”.
Carrion, the name of this type of plant, comes from the Latin word “caro” meaning meat, and the modern term, carrion, means “the decaying flesh of dead animals.”
Just ss the species name and common names do, the Corpse Flower and Stinking flower both relate to the plant’s bad smell.
Why Does The Carrion Flower Smell Like That?
The Carrion Flower gives off its foul smell when the flower blooms. The spadix of the flower is unwrapped from its protected leaf layer called the spathe and gives off the strong odor to attract insects like flies and beetles to pollinate it so it may occupy a unique niche in the ecosystem.
Why Did The Carrion Flower Evolve To Smell Like That?
There could be many reasons. However, nature always finds a way and it just may be that the competition for bees to pollinate it was too fierce. It could be that pollinating at the same time as the rest of the plants in the spring was too competitive.
So, the plant could have evolved to take advantage of other pollinators that aren’t attracted to sweet aromas, but to decaying flesh instead.
It may have found a great window to pollinate at other times of the year and thereby increase its chances of survival.
Science is still uncovering the mysteries that surround this plant and others like it and they just don’t have all the answers yet.
However, we can pretty much guarantee that nature does not adapt without the stimulus to adapt. If there is no reason to change and the plant is thriving, it won’t.
If life becomes too difficult, the plant or animal for that matter adapts to fill an unused or under used niche and then thrives in that less competitive environment.
History Of The Carrion Flower
The Carrion Flower species was first identified by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in Sumatra, Indonesia in 1878. These plants commonly grow only in the wild tropics of Asia and with similar species being found in South America.
The plants actually generate quite a bit of tourism for the local economies now and so has been put on the protected species list internationally.
How To Care For A Carrion Flower
Since this plant is very large and unique, it will need different care than regular succulents.
To start off, a Carrion flower needs to have a 6-inch-deep pot with half and half mix of regular potting mix and the other half of sand or perlite. The top one inch of the soil needs to be completely covered in sand or perlite. You will not have to worry about feeding these bad boys with any fertilizer, they simply don’t need it.
Water your Carrion flower sparingly and use the “dry and soak” method to help guide you in its water schedule.
The dry and soak method is where you let the plant dry up to whatever measure is applicable for that plant. As in here, you let the skin begin to shrivel just a bit and then you soak it, drain it and let it dry again.
In this way you’re simulating natural storms and dry spells that actually tend to make the plant stronger and more hearty.
Keep the soil dry after waterings. In the winter, water your plant very little, you will know it is time to water again when the stems of the Carrion flower are slightly shriveled.
They will literally have the skin on the stems start to look like the skin on your fingers after a long bath. That’s when you know for sure it’s time to water it again.
Keep your Carrion flower in full direct sunlight and keep it in temperatures at least 55°F (12.7°C) all throughout the year.
You never really have to worry about it getting too hot. However, too cold can be a real problem for it. So, be careful for it to not go below 50 degrees F.
What Is The Best Soil To Grow Your Carrion Flower In?
Plant your Carrion flower in a half and half mixture of sand or perlite and regular potting soil mix. It is very important that you cover the top one inch of the mixture completely with sand or perlite to ensure that the plant will properly soak up water.
Using the dry and soak method that we described above works rather well. So, just take a read of it above and you’ll know all you need to.
How Often Should I Water My Carrion Flower?
Water your Carrion sparingly while using the “dry and soak” method to help guide you in its watering schedule when the soil feels dry. During the winter, however, decrease how much water you give it and only water it when its stems seem shriveled a tiny bit as we discussed above as well.
How Much Sunlight Should I Give My Carrion Flower?
Allow your Carrion to bask in full direct sunlight all the time. This plant does well in open sunlight and does not require full shade or the partial shade of being under a shade tree or shade plant of any kind.
What Is The Best Temperature For The Carrion Flower To Thrive?
The best temperature for your Carrion Flower to thrive in year-round is a temperature of at least 55°F (12.7°C). Please don’t allow it to go much lower than 50 degrees F.
What Fertilizer Should I Use For The Carrion Flower?
The Carrion flower species doesn’t need any fertilizer of any kind. It will thrive just fine with water, sunlight and regular potting soil. It can even be grown hydroponically if that’s your thing.
Is The Carrion Flower Poisonous To Pets?
The Corpse flower blooms berries that are red and blue and yes, they are considered poisonous because they contain calcium oxalate crystals, an irritant to the mouth and esophagus. The plant is toxic to humans and animals and it is not advised to consume any of the plant’s berries or they could cause severe illness or even death.
Is The Carrion Carrion Flower Seasonal?
The Carrion Flower species is seasonal. They are perennial vines that die in the winter season and shoot up in the spring. It can take the species up to seven years to bloom its first bloom. Then, as far regular blooming is considered, some species only bloom once every few decades.
This is why when they know for sure one or more is going to bloom in a particular year, they start lining up the tourists to come see this rare event.
What Pollinates The Carrion Flower?
Flesh flies and other carnivorous insects are the general pollinators of Carrion flowers. The plant species attracts them by its smelling of rotten meat, which is what these insects are attracted too.
The plant in essence tricks them into exploring the plant’s flower that gives off the scent and contains its pollen. The insects become coated with it and when they check out the next plant, they pollinate it.
Is The Carrion Flower Edible?
The Carrion Flower berries are not edible, they are in fact poisonous to humans and animals. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which irritate the mouth and esophagus, resulting in the victim choking and dying.
Can You Propagate The Carrion Flower?
Carnivorous insects like flies and beetles are usually the sole propagators that insure the plant species lives on. There is no recorded propagation done by humans as of yet, which is probably why the plant species is considered an endangered species.
What Is The Most Common Pests Of The Carrion Flower?
There are no known harmful pests that attack or eat this plant.
The beneficial pests that visit the Carrion flower species are flesh flies, blowflies, house flies and some beetles. It is typically the females which visit carrion flowers while searching for brood sites, but males are sometimes also attracted.
These pests are considered good and ensure propagation for the plant species. They will only show up when the plant’s flower is exposed and gives off the foul odor that specifically attracts them.