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Stinky Stories: Lurid Carnivorous Plants Lure Garden Fauna to Death

October 31, 2012
Dracunculus in Full Bloom Beside the Composters

Dracunculus in Full Bloom Beside the Composters

Here’s a creepy gardening idea: cultivate killer plants that stink. I mean really stink — like a rotting corpse. So stinky, in fact, that flies flock to your flowers like maggot-mommas settling into carrion.

Nightmarish garden design concept?

Think I’m kidding?


In early July, for all of one day, our compost area reeks of rotting meat courtesy of the erotic and vampire-sounding Dracunculus flower. This gorgeous stinker is also known as a Voodoo Lily or Dragon flower — dragon apparently being the root of the name rather than Dracula, but I still can’t help making the blood-sucker connection. Heck, I believe Drac’s name was even derived from dragon, but I digress….

This hearty plant is available in bulb form in autumn — or dig it up from your neighbor’s garden. That’s what I did when they were near tears over how bad it smelled out their open windows in summer.  Planted by some gardener who came before them, this stuff had taken over a bed close to their home. And, yes, it will spread and own a space over time.

In our garden, I had originally kept it in a container. Last year, it escaped the confines of a pot. But, it rooted in relatively far from our house and close to our deliciously rotten compost heap, so I left it to do what it would. So far, we’re enjoying the results.

Dracunculus Lures Fly

Flies Can’t Resist the Rotten Flesh Aroma of the Blooming Dracunculus. Watch out Little Bug; You’re Gonna Die Down that Hole!

This year it put on quite the show, sending up a gorgeous, sanguine flower stalk nearly five feet tall before opening to lure flies to their death. After, it began forming seed pods (that I sent to the yard waste before they matured) and finally withered to the ground under the searing summer sun — hmm…kinda sounds like a vampire to me.

Dracunculus isn’t the only macabre plant that lures pollinators to their death. Cobra Lily, Sun Dews and even Petunias have been credited with the ability to lure, trap and devour insects (and in some cases small mammals).

Read on for more scary tales of meat-hungry plants and their animal kingdom victims.




  1. Rina Ho says:

    I don’t know why, but there is something in these kinds of insect-devouring plants that keeps me drawn to them. I particularly like v-fly traps. I don’t know why, either. Thanks for the great post! 🙂

  2. Rina – agreed! They’re fascinating 🙂

  3. […] begin by looking at one that’s really common in the PacNW – Dracunculus vulgaris. And, to be clear, this one isn’t edible (to our knowledge). It is, however, very easy to […]

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