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The chemistry of stink

  • Subject: The chemistry of stink
  • From: Steve Marak <samarak@arachne.uark.edu>
  • Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 23:34:00 -0500 (CDT)

I was quietly catching up on e-mail this morning when a typhonium
announced another inflorescence as only typhoniums can. It is a peculiar
stench, initially just a slithering at the edge of awareness, then
suddenly I'm wondering how I came to be down wind from a pig farm, or
perhaps one of those really large cattle feed lots. It's definitely more
insidious than, and at least as potent as, the something-dead smell of,
say, Dracunculus vulgaris.

It's made me wonder if anyone has determined just what the substance(s)
responsible for this unique pungency is/are?

The typhonium in question today is T. divaricatum, obtained several years
ago from a friend on this list. It has always grown well enough, flowering
once or twice, but this year that pot has done exceptionally well,
flowering repeatedly all spring.

Most of the typhoniums I grow have this same type of aroma, the exceptions
being violifolium (which, by the way, is just too cute) and Sauromatum
venosum (this is still being renamed, right?). S. venosum smells bad, but
it just doesn't seem to be of the same magnitude.


-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@arachne.uark.edu

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