Dead Horse in a Parking Lot
Right now, at this very moment, there is a dead horse in the parking lot at the SF Botanical Garden. Okay, maybe not a real dead horse. It’s actually a Helicodiceros muscivorus, which is also called “The Dead Horse Arum.” And there’s only one reason why you’d call such a mighty flower that name, and it’s not how it looks.
I’ve never actually smelled a dead horse, but I can honestly say that I can now better imagine it because I have smelled a Helicodiceros muscivorus flower.
The smell is there to attract the plant’s pollinators: carrion flies. As I was photographing this beauty, there was always one around. The spathe and spadix are also full of tiny tendrils that look like animal hair. It’s easy to see how inviting the whole scene would be if you were a fly and into that sorta thing.
The flower is a thing of beauty. Its base is full of green and white lines that reminded me of another favorite stinky Aroid, Synandrospadix vermitoxicus. And its creme-colored flower with burgundy hair looked almost lifelike.
And this thing is big. Just to get a sense of scale, here’s a photo of it with my phone.
If you want to take a gander of it yourself, just go to the SFBG parking lot on Lincoln at 10th Avenue. After you pull in, it’s on your right. It’s hard to miss. Just follow your gag reflex.