It’s Thursday of National Pollinator Week, and today let’s look at some other forgotten pollinators: flies. Specifically, carrion-fly and dung-flies that pollinate plants, a process called sapromyophily.
The flowers these flies pollinate produce smells mimicking decaying flesh, urine, or farts. These smells are created in part by the happily-named amines putrescine and cadaverine.
(Helpful Hint for Dudes: Do NOT give these flowers as a Valentine’s gift!)
Sapromyophilic flowers are commonly red to mimic meat, and some of them also produce heat, to further mimic decomposing flesh or a recently dropped turd.
Normally carrion and flesh flies lay eggs on a source of rotting protein; so many plants have tricks to keep the flies from leaving after they discover no actual rotting flesh to feed or lay eggs on. Some have downward facing hairs or compartments to trap the flies until they receive or deliver a dose of pollen.
The catchy name of “corpse flower” has been given to the largest flower in the world, which spells strongly like urine and dead meat. And there’s a reason the Genus is Amorphophallus. It’s a bit…suggestive….when fully, um, erect.
Please report back on how you are able to work the word of the day into a conversation.