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Top 10 Amazing Carrion Plants

Carrion is a lovely word used for rotting or decomposing flesh, and so carrion flowers tend to smell like a pile of rotten flesh. This smell is not used to ward off potential predators, but rather to attract insects. The insects are not used or consumed by the flower for nutrients, but rather, like with most flowers, they help to pollinate the flower. These flowers do not attract all insects, like butterflies and bees, but only insects actually attracted to carrion, such as carrion beetles and a variety of flies. These Putrid but fascinating flowers differ from one another in amazing ways, and it is some of those that we can look at today.



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The Phallaceae are a family of fungi, commonly known as stinkhorn mushrooms. Belonging to the fungal order Phallales, the Phallaceae have a worldwide distribution, but are especially prevalent in tropical regions. They are known for their foul smelling, sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the end of stalks called the receptaculum. The characteristic fruiting body structure—a single, unbranched receptaculum with an externally attached gleba on the upper part—distinguish the Phallaceae from other families in the Phalalles. The spore mass typically smells of carrion or dung, and attracts flies and other insects to help disperse the spores.


Helicodiceros muscivorus

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Helicodiceros muscivorus (Dead horse arum lily) is an ornamental plant, native to the northwestern Mediterranean region. It reproduces the stench of rotting meat, attracting carrion-seeking blowflies which act as pollinators. One of a rare group of thermogenic plants, the Dead Horse Arum can raise its temperature by thermogenesis. This helps to lure flies into the plant, and into contact with its pollen. Interestingly, the very few thermogenic plants that do exist are mostly carrion plant (though there are a couple of exceptions).


California Dutchman’s-pipe

11Dutchmans Pipe 004

The California Dutchman’s-pipe, or Aristolochia californica, is a deciduous vine with purple-striped, curving, pipe-shaped flowers, which give rise to winged capsular green fruits. The flowers have a strong unpleasant odor which attracts carrion feeding insects. The insects crawl into the convoluted flower and get disoriented, leaving them with more time to pick up pollen as they wander around inside the flower, until their eventual escape. Fungus gnats are the common pollinators that fall for the dutchman’s-pipes’ deceit, as they gain absolutely nothing from the flower. Even though this plant provides nothing to its pollinators, it has been the saving grace of the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly, by being its only food source. The red spotted black caterpillars feed on the leaves, which makes them unpalatable to other predators. They then also use the flowers as a safe enclosed space to under go metamorphosis.


Starfish Flowers

Carrion Plant, Starfish Flower, Starfish Cactus (Stapelia Grandiflora)

The starfish flowers, or Stapelia Gigantae, is a plant from the milkweed family. It is a cactus like, succulent plant that produces large starfish shaped flowers. The flowers are flesh colored or yellow, with fine red lines running across it, and are covered with hairs. In the center of each flower is a mouth like orifice, in which the plants sex organs lie. A putrid smell is produced here, and it lures insects and flies to the center, where they can aid in pollination.


Eastern Skunk cabbage


Skunk cabbage, or Symplocarpus foetidus, is a low growing, foul smelling plant that prefers wetlands. It can be found naturally in Northern and Eastern North America, as well as in many parts of Asia. The Skunk cabbage has large broad leaves and produces 10 -15cm flowers with a mottled purple color. This plant does produce a rotting, fetid smell which is most pungent when a leaf is torn. This smell is to attract pollinators such as flies and beetles. Another interesting fact about this plant is that it is one of very few plants that exhibits thermogenesis. This means that it can generate heat, and in this case the temperatures can reach 15-35C. This allows the plant to melt its way through frozen ground, and the flowers can bloom while there is still snow. This also attracts insects that are hiding from the cold, and helps to evaporate and disperse their smell.


Dracunculus vulgaris

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This is truly a flower that goes by many names, some of which include Dragon Arum, Black Arum, Snake Lily, Stink Lily, Black Dragon, Dragonwort and Drakondia. The scientific name is Dracunculus vulgaris, and it is native to the Balkans, Mediterranean, Europe and Anatolia. It has recently been introduced to the United States, where it has thrived. This is an amazing plant that has the most stunning flower, which is made up of a spadix which can grow up to 120cm. The spadix is initially enveloped by the spathe which is a dark purple to black color. The spathe unfolds to reveal the almost black spadix, which releases a strong scent of carrion for about a day, in which time the sexual organs are ripe and insects attracted to the smell will distribute the pollen.


Hydnora Africana


The Hydrona Africana is a root parasite that lives on the Euphorbia Hydnora. The plant is completely leafless and devoid of chlorophyll, as the whole bud is a brown color. The bud looks much like a fungi, and is not really distinguishable as a flower until it opens up to reveal a bright orange, salmon color on the inside. The bud starts to release its putrid carrion smell before it opens and attracts flies and carrion beetles to climb into the bud. They become trapped inside the bud by fine hairs all around each small opening, and they will remain trapped until the bud has fully matured, pollinated and opened up.


Pelican Flower

Worlds Smelliest Flower 15S

Aristolochia gigantea, also referred to as the Giant Pelican Flower and the Giant Dutchman’s Pipe, originally hails from Brazil and Panama. This vine boasts flowers that are red in color with intricate white markings on the single petal. Resembling a heart that has been rolled into a cone shape, this intriguing plant also has heart shaped foliage that is bright, lush green and quite glossy at times. A sizable plant, the aristolochia gigantea can grow 8 -10 feet in height, with a spread of up to 8 feet, as well. Its blossoms may even grow to be approximately 1 full foot in length. The flowers release a very strong putrid smell for when they open, and this attracts flies to help aid in the pollination process.


Rafflesia arnoldii


Amazingly both of our final two plants are commonly known as corpse flowers. The Rafflesia arnoldii is the largest individual flower in the world, and is an endemic plant that occurs only in the rainforest of Bengkulu, Sumatra Island, Indonesia and Malaysia. There are several kinds of Rafflesia in these areas, but the arnoldii is the largest at up to 1 meter/3 feet in diameter it can weigh up to 11 kg.

It lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine, which grows only in primary (undisturbed) rainforests. Rafflesia lacks any observable leaves, stems or even roots, yet is still considered a vascular plant. Similar to fungi, individuals grow as thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded within, and in intimate contact with, surrounding host cells from which nutrients and water are obtained. This plant produces no leaves, stems or roots and does not have chlorophyll. It can only be seen when it is ready to reproduce. Perhaps the only part of Rafflesia that is identifiable as distinctly plant-like are the flowers; although, even these are unusual since they attain massive proportions, have a reddish-brown coloration and stink of rotting flesh, which is why it was nicknamed the “corpse flower”. This scent attracts insects such as flies, which then pollinate the rare plant. This plant should not be confused with Amorphophallus titanum (item 1).


Amorphophallus titanum

Worlds Largest Flower 6Sfw

Amorphophallus titanum directly translated from Greek literally means misshapen Penis Giant, from the enormous misshapen phallus that sits directly in the center of the flower, and is commonly known as the Titan Arum. This is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, and it is endemic to Sumatra. The titan arum’s inflorescence can reach over 3 meters (10 ft) in height. Like the related cuckoo pint and calla lily, it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like the flower’s single petal. In the case of the Titan Arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The “fragrance” of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The flower’s deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects.

  • Never heard of any of these, but where is the one shaped like a dick?

    • Apart from Amorphophallus titanum

      • Name-o

        What do you mean “apart from”? Isn’t that one enough? After all, it’s even in the name. Besides, number 10, the Phallaceae, could also translate to “Penis family”.

  • funny that the stinky flowers (hehe) are amongst the most ironically erotic looking things in the world second only to that jacking off shake weight thing . Each of these things look like horrifically diseased and deformed shlongs, nut sacks , vajajays (hate that word censors) and bung holes or a horrible combination of them . Mother nature can be a bi**h but at least she and i share the same sense of humour.

    Drink in the horror that is no.4 , it looks like a gulgomech vadge, look at it! do you see?! DO YOU SEE?!!!

    • I have to applaud your use of words to avoid censoring

      • Haha I agree. I was going to say the same thing and then I scrolled down and saw your comment.

    • circlefan

      yes, these plants resemble the above mentioned.
      isn’t it funny that these plants smell like flesh? just the rotten kind…

      • GK

        They must be popular with the local necrophiliacs.

      • Miss V

        I am so glad that the above mentioned does not resemble the smell of these plants.

      • Nocturnesthesia

        I used to study plant bio, nothing makes a 95 degree humid-as-balls greenhouse more pleasant than the overwhelming stink of rotting flesh.

        My personal favorite carrion plant is the Orbea Paradoxa, though. It’s severely endangered, and only grows naturally in a tiny area of Africa (near Swaziland)… Wouldn’t want one in my house, but it’s cool to see.

    • Armadillo

      I think I’m about to choke to death with laughter. You just killed me, dude.

  • hey . . . wasn’t the #1- Amorphophallus titanum the one on Denis the Menace

    • chrom3d

      yeah, kinda reminded me of that one..

  • Triptastic

    They all are vaguely phallic!

    • I beg to differ – I think number 4 is quite the opposite :)

      • Bren

        Might as well call it the “vagina flower”

        • Denzell

          In the Philippines, “flower” is actually a euphemism for vagina.

        • fendabenda

          I beg to integrate. Ehmm… come to think of it, no I don’t. Forget it. It’s just the old matematician in me speaking… :D

          • bigski

            #4 looks like a vajayjay from hell….

  • chrom3d

    very informative, nice list!

  • This is one of those “kinda hard to read in the office” lists, like the nudism list

    • fendabenda

      What are you talking about, those are just plants and flowers! :D

  • FoxyJess

    Wow. Fantastic list. So interesting.

  • Bren

    #10 reminds me of a cows udder

  • fendabenda

    I once had a Venus Flytrap, but my stupid blonde girlfriend killed it. She tried to feed it with minced meat, silly biatch… :-D

  • Awesome list. very well-researched. I didn’t even know that “carrion plants” were a thing. I thought titan arum was the only one. And bluesman is right. Very uncomfortable erotic.

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a Aristolochia gigantea/ By any other name would smell as god-forsakenly awful.” – Definitely not William Shakespeare.

  • Denzell

    I think flower number 5 is a good antivalentine gift to give to that psycho ex.

  • Smith

    Most of them look like pu**y. Just me? Haha

    • Woyzeck

      Like puffy? As in P. Diddy? Well, if you say so.

  • mom424

    Very good list – way interesting. Didn’t realize that there were quite so many death plants out there.

    I never noticed any wayward stink coming from the Dracunculus you can buy at the florist (indoor plant around here); must be some non-stank variety.

    And yes they do look like people bits – #3 looking like geriatric man parts to me – all potatoes……

    • Denzell

      The no-stink version is called a calla lily.

  • oouchan

    And here I am giggling over all of these like some school kid. Silly to be sure. :)
    Never heard of any of these so I learned a bit today (even with the childish giggles ensuing).

    Cute list.

  • Lifeschool

    Very interesting. Great photos. I only knew the Venus Flytrap and it wasn’t even on the list.

    @ JFrater: #4 actually reminded me of Sandworms.

    • Christine Vrey

      Venus fly trap was not on the list, as it is not a carrion plant, It is a carniverios plant. Carrion means rotten flesh, and so these are just plants that smell like rotten flesh, and attract animals only to help pollenate. Carniverous plants attract animals for the purpose of consumption and obtaining needed minerals….

  • pcanuk

    i would not want to meet any of these flowers in a dark ally….kinda creepy!

  • Elemarth

    Brilliant idea for a list! gross, though

  • ArjayM

    I only know about list #2, a rare plant. You can see it also in the Philippines.

  • Tristan Bradshaw

    The one shaped like a dick, as the post points out, is called a Phallaceae, which comes from the ancient Greek word for “dick.”

  • Glenn

    I learned something today!

  • Woyzeck

    I’m naming my first (living) child Eastern Skunk Cabbage.

    • Maggot

      Lol, I bet when your folks named you “Phallus Titanum”, it had nothing to do with your anatomy. ;-)

      • Woyzeck

        Haha, cheers Maggot!

  • Christine Vrey

    Glad everyone is liking the list!!! And yeah most of them did turn out to look like Di*ks and Pu**y’s…. It couldn’t be helped…. At least I have never encountered any di*ks or Pu**y’s that smell like carrion!! My next list will be carnivorous plants, just to clear up any confusion!!

    • le tel

      Good stuff, I really liked this list and look forward to the carniverous one. Apart from the Venus fly trap I am intellectually dificient in the area of plants etc.

  • vanowensbody

    Great list.

  • flaming_frogurt

    Why’s there a fungus in a list about plants? ;)

  • Justin

    Did anyone else think of Animal Crossing when they saw number 2?

    • Woyzeck

      Literally no-one did, no.

    • Ashley

      I totally did. I think they called it a Jacob’s Ladder in that game.

      • Triploblast

        No, Jacob’s Ladder is the pretty one you get when your town is perfect. Raffleisa is what you get when your town is full of weeds and garbage.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Cool list. Number 10 could definitely be called “the rotten dick plant.”

  • Tracypants

    Nice list, I had only ever heard of few of these.

    Anyone else think the Rafflesia arnoldii looks like something out of Mario?

  • MCN2011

    Is it wrong that I recognised Amorphophallus Titanium from GTA San Andreas?

  • I have heard of about half of these, the number 1 & 2 are yearly events, televised when in bloom at some nearby Botanic Garden. I choose to stay away and take the word of the commentator as to the horrific smell.

    This list did get me to wondering about the use of some of these in the garden (far from the house), to discourage some of the wildlife pests we are usually inundated with on a year around basis.

    Then it occurred to me that would also, undoubtedly, discourage the deer which will stand right outside my kitchen window and forage in the overgrown ground cover. I just couldn’t do that to them!

  • By the by, I have never heard of, or seen the California Dutchman’s-pipe…and except for several childhood years spent living in Australia, California has always been home.

    I have to agree with the posters who say that several of the flowers have a very suggestive shape, both male and female. The shape of certain flora do suggest certain body parts, and Georgia O’Keefe made many paintings exploring that very thing. I, also, have some of my photo-manipulations which are more than suggestive (blame it on the plant! I just took the photo and took advantage of a good thing!).

    • Miss V

      Oh my word, just had to check out Georgia O’Keefe…. She realy does seem to have a knack at finding sexuality in flowers…. I recon those could be great material for a 13 year old boy thats starting to to realize everything good about life =)

  • chichirica

    I wonder if I could grow some of these in my garden. just to annoy my neighbors.

  • Stephanie Dixon

    Great list, Christine! Kudos. Looking forward to the carnivorous plant list!

  • This list is making me hungry.

    Misshapen Penis Giant would be a great name for a rock group.

    • fendabenda

      No, it wouldn’t, but LOL for the suggestion. :) Do you know what’s the best name of a rock group? “Electric Blue Peggy Sue and the Revolutionions From Mars”.

      That WAS an actual punk band, google it if you don’t believe me. :)

  • Dani

    Nice list, but it does bother me your list indicates plants and your intro flowers, but the very first thing you post is fungi.

  • Robert

    rafflesia is also found in the philippines and some other south east asian countries you know

  • Amazing post! That first one–I’m wordless.

  • skeptical

    so uh i thought fungi weren’t plants?

  • cosmicbamboo

    LOL at ‘penis giant’.
    And I swear the Rafflesia thing can also be found in the Philippines. Went there for vacation and went to an island somewhere and the guide showed us the wild flower. Dayum, it sure does smell like the dead. (Like I’ve smelled one before?)
    Great list though…

  • Ansley


  • Salamat ALI

    so amazing 2 much interesting 4 us

  • malik

    she is butyful

    • nonoy

      wow amizang :)