Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flies as pollinators

Last week I showed you the first bloom of my Stapelia gigantea plant and I mentioned that these plants are supposedly pollinated by flies. The blooms allegedly can have a rather putrid odor which attracts the flies, although the first bloom on my plant did not seem to have a terribly objectionable odor.  That could have been because the plant was growing outside.  If it had been in a closed space, the scent might have been more noticeable.

I watched for flies to find that first bloom, but as far as I know, they never did.  I never saw a single fly on the plant.

This week, though, the second and third blooms have opened on the plant and it is a whole different story.  The flies were out in force today.

  There is one fly visible in the center of this bloom.

There are three flies investigating the blossom here.

They headed right into the center of the bloom, which is just what the plant wants.

These confused flies may be wondering, "Where is the yummy carrion?"

When they head back out again, they will be carrying a nice load of Stapelia pollen.

I watched as a steady stream of flies visited the plant today.  I still could not detect any really bad odor from the bloom, but apparently the scent was powerful enough to have wafted its calling card around the yard.  Even if I couldn't detect it, obviously the flies could.


  1. This is too cool. How much fun to have your own stinky beauty and see evolution in action.

  2. It is a fun plant. It has given me a lot of pleasure to watch it develop.

  3. Mine has not bloomed for a couple of years. It is a bit neglected and it takes a little time for it to recover from being in a cold, dark garage over the winter without water.

    Have you noticed eggs in the flowers? The carrion scent is so convincing to the flies that they lay their eggs in the flowers thinking it will make a great meal for the maggot children. It looks like that could be some eggs at the 4:00 position.

  4. I haven't looked closely for eggs, Bluestem, but I certainly will after your comment. Once the blossoms are spent, I cut them off. I'll examine them more closely in the future. It is a fascinating plant!