The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) is named for its repulsive odor. The “fragrance” is uncannily similar to rotting meat, but it’s perfect for attracting pollinators with a specific taste: carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies. A single plant can take as long as 10 years between blooms, but some have been known to flower again within the same year. Once open, the spathe (similar to a large petal) begins to wilt as soon as 12 hours later, reducing its ability to be pollinated. A chemical analysis shows its scent is caused by the same compounds behind humankind’s least favorite odors: dimethyl trisulfide (think stinky cheese), trimethylamine (rotten fish), isovaleric acid (sweaty socks), and indole (like human feces). Delightful!
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