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The World’s Smelliest Flowers

3 min read

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...  These flowers however, do not smell so sweet!  When we think of flowers, we normally think about their fragrant scent, as well as their pretty appearance.  We don’t tend to recoil in horror when we lean in for a sniff of fresh flowers, but that’s likely to be your reaction with these flowers!  Here are 6 of the world’s smelliest flowers.

1. Titan Arum (Corpse Flower)


Native to the equatorial rainforest of Central Sumatra in Western Indonesia, the Titan Arum is considered to be the smelliest flower in the world!  As the name suggests, this flower apparently smells like a rotting corpse.   Thankfully, the flowers only bloom every 4-6 years and only last for about 24-48 hours at a time.  The smell of rotten flesh, however, lingers in the air for days afterwards.  The Titan Arum flower can stretch to 3 metres and is actually not one flower but thousands of tiny flowers which botanists call infloresence.

2.  Eastern Skunk Cabbage

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The Eastern Skunk Cabbage is found in the wetland soils of eastern North America and allegedly smells like a dead skunk.  The flower can lure in flies for pollination with its smell and is also thought to attract pollinators by mimicking a fresh corpse.  This flower has a number of interesting attributes apart from its strong smell.  For example, the flower can generate its own heat allowing it to come up through snow covered ground.  The plant is also used for medicinal purposes in the treatment of asthma, epilepsy, rheumatism and coughs.


3. Rafflesia Arnoldii (Corpse Flower)

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The second of our “Corpse flowers”, the Rafflesia Arnoldii is the largest single flower in the world.  It can grow to almost 1 metre in diameter and can weigh up to 11 kilograms!  The Rafflesia Arnoldii is a protected species in Indonesia where, despite its unpleasant smell, it is considered to be one of three national flowers.


4. Stapellia Gigantea (Carrion flower)

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The Stapellia Gigantea goes by many names including the Carrion flower, the Toad flower and Zulu Giant Starfish flower.  These native South African plants have a rotten smell that attracts flies and maggots.  The plant itself resembles a Cactus and it blooms in September producing large, flesh–looking, 5 pointed stars.  The flesh coloured flower is covered in white hairs and it is believed to mimic the rotting flesh of a dead animal.


5. Dead Horse Arum Lily (Helicodiceros)

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One of the most elegant flowers available, we often associate the lily with their beautiful scent.  This lily however is probably not the best choice for a house plant.  Unless, of course, you don’t mind the smell of dead horse?  Because that’s exactly what this particular flower smells like!  On a warm, sunny day the flower will unroll and release its stench.  When this happens, only the female flowers are receptive and flies are lured deep within the hairy spadix where they get trapped for a day.  The male flowers then shed their pollen and the flies are released covered in this pollen which they then go onto cross pollinate another Dead Horse Arum Lily.


6. Hydnora Africana (Stinking Root Parasite)

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This fleshy flower is a parasitic plant which is found in Southern Africa and grows entirely underground.  The red flesh-coloured flowers produce a stinking odour that smells like faeces.  The flowers sprout from the ground covered in dung beetles that are attracted by the strong smell.  The beetles are trapped in the flower by downward pointing hairs and they spill out when the flower opens.  Perhaps Outkast were onto something when they sang about roses smelling like poo – they just got the name of the flower wrong!

Interflora Australia has been operating across our country since 1954. Originally based in Adelaide, South Australia, we now operate out of Interflora House in Melbourne, Victoria. Interflora Australia is 100% Australian owned - via a licensing agreement, issued to us from Interflora in the United Kingdom...