Foul Play


Marcel Proust was right: nothing can trigger a powerful, emotional memory quicker than a scent. Signature floral perfumes have left indelible impressions on many gentleman suitors throughout the ages. The lily-of-the-valley, Christian Dior's lucky flower, is forever associated with this couture house. More recent floral scents include Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf, Flora by Gucci and Daisy by Marc Jacobs. But not all flowers are team players. In order to attract specific insects, which in turn will act as potential pollinators, some blooms emit an altogether foul smell. Here are a few examples of flowers you really don't want to include in your tabletop arrangement:

Titan Arum
Its nickname, Corpse Flower, says it all: this massive bloom is quite dramatic, but smells like a rotting corpse in order to attract insects that prefer to lay their eggs in dead things. For added effect, the inside of the bloom is the color of red meat. The only good news is that the flower's bloom doesn't last very long, only about 24 to 48 hours, and this only happens once every four to six years. 
(Image via the Botanical Garden at Berkeley)

Rafflesia Arnoldii
One of the three national flowers in Indonesia, this one shares the same nickname with Titan Arum. It is also the largest individual flowers in the world as it weighs in around 10 kg and usually has a diameter of about three feet. Also noteworthy is that Rafflesia Arnoldii flower is parasitic, and has no roots, leaves or stems.
(Image via World of Flowering Plants)

Hydnora Africana
Possibly the least charming of the bunch is Hydnora Africana, a fleshy parasitic plant native to southern Africa that emits the smell of feces to attract dung beetles, its pollinators of choice. This bizarre-looking plant, often mistaken for a fungus, grows almost entirely underground except for its bloom.
(Image via Gardening Know How)

Dracunculus Vulgaris
The beauty award among the carrion flowers goes to Dracunculus Vulgaris for its spectacular purple color palette. There are widespread erotic connotations resulting from its shape, explaining the nickname Viagra Lily.
(Image via Youtube)

Lysichiton Americanus
AKA American Skunk Cabbage is a perennial herb native to California, whose repulsive smell sticks around long after the blooms have dried. Not to worry: Lysichiton Americanus has not been invited to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show :)
(Image via Bodnant Garden Centre)