What’s that smell…in the air?

Hickory and I were crossing a grassy patch and skirted into the shade of a tree–only to veer away again.

“Whew” Hickory’s tail twitched, and not in a good way.

“Something died.” I started looking around. But the odor of rot came from above us… “The flowers in that tree?”


Sure enough, we climbed the trunk–and only the trunk because the limbs sprouted wicked thorns–and got close enough to verify that the blossoms on the tree were causing the stink.

We went back to Miz Flora, who told us the offender was a Hawthorn tree. We squirrels aren’t the only ones who think those tree flowers smell like rot. You humans have done enough research to learn that the flowers are producing a chemical–trimethylamine–which attracts carrion beetles that normally eat dead things. The beetles travel from flower to flower and pollinate the Hawthorns.

Hawthorn flowers

“Too bad,” Hickory chittered. “It’s such a pretty little flower.”

“Heh.” Miz Flora laughed. “Fewer humans will pick it now, which means more of those hawthorn fruits in the fall for us.”


One thought on “What’s that smell…in the air?

  1. Fascinating! My porch smelled like death for a while this spring when my amorphophallus konjac plants flowered. 🙂 Now the glorious foliage is taking off, a nice pay-off.

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