So what self-respecting bee or butterfly visits one of these flowers? The answer is that bees don’t, but flies do! The plants smell like the things that flies love to lay their eggs on. However, it is a cruel deception, for while bees receive nice nectar in return for spreading a flower’s pollen, the poor flies get nothing at all – there isn’t a rotting corpse inside for them to lay eggs on. Many go ahead and lay their eggs anyway, and it’s not uncommon to see fly eggs in Stapelia flowers or lots of tiny maggots wriggling about, but they soon starve to death as there is no rotting meat for them to eat.
The kings or queens of this bunch are the Amorphophallus plants (above left), which are famous for producing the largest inflorescences (flowering parts) in the world. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria sometimes announces when one of its Amorphophallus titanum plants produces its huge blooms. These are not true flowers as they’re an inflorescence that contains hundreds of tiny flowers. The true largest flower in the world, the vine Rafflesia arnoldii (above right), is also a carrion-odoured stinker.
Australia also has some native species of Amorphophallus, such as the elephant yam (A. paeoniifolius), which is not as large as A. titanum. And we also have some smaller relatives, including Typhonium brownii.
So it’s always worth having a look or sniff around as there could be a rare little stinker growing in the bush near you.
If you notice your pet scratching or losing hair, it’s important to act quickly, otherwise they will be suffering – and you may find yourself itching as well, writes DR PETER KIRKPATRICK
Vets see lots of interesting cases coming through their doors, and some make your skin crawl… literally. Our furry friends can suffer from a number of nasty skin bugs and bites, which can be distressing for them and, in some cases, for you too.
Try to make a habit of regularly inspecting your pet’s coat, especially if you notice her scratching or discover patches of hair loss. It’s important to address the problem quickly, before any parasites spread to you and your home.
If you notice lumps or bumps that aren’t bites, or in hair-loss areas, consult your vet as soon as possible. While many can be benign, the sooner you know what the problem is, the better.
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