Last Summer, I bought a huge mystery plant I had never seen before from an estate sale here in town. It was gorgeous and full of trailing green spikes that definitely seemed to be a succulent of some kind. I put it on a plant stand displayed proudly on my porch until I came home from work last October 3rd to a huge surprise! Here we are almost to the beginning of October and it is happening again.

I actually smelled it before I saw it. The stench of rotting meat. There were flies everywhere! Before consulting "The Googles," I decided to reach out to my friends on Facebook for help in identifying this strange and stinky plant.

Their comments did not disappoint.

My friend Kristie Clark said "You didn’t buy it from Mr. Chang. During a total eclipse of the sun did you?" and others posted GIFS from Little Shop of Horrors. To my knowledge, this creepy-looking bloom has not yelled for us to feed it...yet.

April Berry, Theatre teacher at Apollo High School said "Beautiful-but yea…it’s going to eat you."

Derrick Smith "You over there growing demigorgans!!" and a couple of friends commented that I had opened up a portal to the Upside Down from Stranger Things. Doesn't this look like those monsters?

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What is the Stinky Flower in my Succulent?

My 6th grade science teacher, Kim Ray, who is also a skilled gardener chimed in to identify my new pet, "Enjoy your stinky plant," she said with a screenshot of the scientific name. "Stapelia gigantea" is also known as a Zulu Giant which typically blooms in early Autumn.


How Long Do Zulu Giant Blooms Last?

I have observed the succulent begins to sprout pods very quickly over the course of about a week. Then the pods open up even quicker. The other day when I left for work, they had not bloomed yet and when I came home at lunch time the whole porch was rank with the first pod that had opened to reveal the prickly flower inside. In all of its glory, it is about 6-8 inches across. Not even 48 hours later, the bloom wilted and will eventually fall off. Not before becoming a pit stop for all of the flies in town!


Flies are Pollinators

The smell of rotting flesh along with the size and color attract flies in order to assist with pollination of more little stinky Zulus. This plant can become invasive in dry climates which I guess means it does its job pretty well!

Mine still has pods to bloom, so I should probably move it away from the door to stop gagging every time we are coming and going! Have you all ever encountered this plant before? It's so wild, right?

Source: Indiana University



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