Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Some Flowers Smell Bad

I often associate the smell of a rose with that of solid human waste, by way of restroom air fresheners; incidentally, the reason floral smells are so good in air fresheners, is that they share similar aroma compounds, like indole and skatole. image: Glorious Garden

Simon Cotton, The Conversation, via, July 9, 2015
[note this post is a bit outdated]

Most people already know about the world's smelliest flower. Here I'd like just take note of its associated lexicon, taken from the above article.

First let's hear about this "master of disguise":
"Its smell is designed to attract insects such as flies and carrion beetles, which normally feed on decaying flesh, which will help pollinate it. The spathe is green on the outside but the flower head is red, so it looks like meat. This plant is really cunning – as it blooms it gives out quite a lot of heat, up to 36°C, which encourages the molecules to spread out by helping them vapourise, and also confirms the impression of "warm meat". The insects crawl over the spathe to leave their eggs in what they believe to be rotten meat, in the process transferring pollen – and this pollinates the plant."

-Amorphophallus titanum
-corpse flower
-carrion plant
-hot, rotten flesh
-dimethyl disulphide (DMDS)
-dimethyl trisulphide (DMTS)
-'off-flavor' in beer (result of the fermentation process)
-"sweaty skin" acids
-human faeces
-"dead-horse arum"
-dimethyl sulfide (DMS)
-"smell of the seaside"
-black truffles underground in some parts of France.
(DMDS and DMTS are associated with the smell of Italian white truffles.)

*This list contains terms associated with plants of similar genus, and terms for molecules that may only contribute to, but do not wholly represent, their reference-term (indole is a component of human feces, but not the only one).

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