The rotten-meat-scented corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) may get all of the mainstream press, what with its flashy blooming parties that attract admirers from all across the globe. But on the botanical weirdness scale, it's easily trumped by Hydnora africana, a parasitic flower found in southern Africa.


The Hydnora's spherical flower grows on the roots of other plants and strongly resembles the graboids from Tremors. This strange plant has a putrid pollination tactic. It emits the scent of feces to attract nearby dung beetles. And do you see those tooth-like structures on the plant? Those aren't for eating the insects — it's quite the opposite, in fact. As the American Botanical Society explains:

The flower of Hydnora is a kind of intricate trap. Or, as we will see, a temporary trap. The flower of Hydnora, when it first opens, has white threadlike structures that cross the gap between the "sepals." The openings between these threads are barely large enough for a beetle to enter [...] Although a beetle may enter a flower, it evidently has difficulty in finding its way out of the flower. This keeps it inside a flower long enough so that the beetle can pick up pollen or deposit pollen on its surface onto the stigmas at the bottom of the floral tube.


The Hydnora traps the dung beetle inside its flower for several days so the insect has ample time to become covered in pollen. But the beetle doesn't starve during its stay at the Hotel Hydnora — it chows down on nourishing tissue and excess pollen.

When the beetle eventually emerges, it is sated, drenched in genetic material, and living proof that natural selection is sometimes guided by a cosmic unknowable middle school student. Somewhere on Earth, a species of Penis-Fart kelp is just itching to be discovered.

Related: More fun with non-human reproduction.


Top image: Martin Heigan (1, 2). Bottom image: Musselman and Musselman/Old Dominion University. Spotted on Dark Roasted Blend.