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Beautiful Flowers That Smell Bad

By Isabel Prontes ; Updated September 21, 2017
Beautiful flowers, but what do they smell like?

Beautiful flowers are generally associated with having sweet, soft and pleasant fragrances. But there are varieties of flowers that, despite their outward attractiveness, actually emit foul and unpleasant odors. They do so because they need to attract flies, beetles and other insects.

Carrion Flower

The carrion flower is also known as the stinking flower. The flower is notable for its deep, reddish-brown flowers that resemble stars. The petals have a flesh-like color and have a thick, hair-like covering. But the odor is more memorable than the appearance. It's comparable to that of a rotting carcass because the plant needs to attract carrion beetles, flesh flies, blowflies and midges as pollinators.

Rafflesia Arnoldii

Rafflesia arnoldii is part of the Rafflesia genus, and originates on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. It is a rare plant that produces reddish-brown flowers. Rafflesia arnoldii can grow to be 3 feet in width and weigh more than 22 pounds. There are no roots, stems or leaves. It is often referred to as "the corpse flower" because of its strong odor, which is reminiscent of rotting flesh. The odor attracts flies as pollinators.

Yellow Skunk Cabbage

Yellow skunk cabbage is also known commonly as Western skunk cabbage and swamp lantern. It is a showy, bright yellow arum that originates in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Yellow skunk cabbage is known for its foul, distinct odor that is similar to that of a skunk.. Where the plant is grown, the strong odor will permeate; it can be detected even in dried-out and old specimens. The odor functions to attract the plant's pollinators, such as beetles and flies.