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Re: [aroid-l] Debate about Stink (Re-fumigated)

  • Subject: Re: [aroid-l] Debate about Stink (Re-fumigated)
  • From: "Randy Story" story@caltech.edu
  • Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 11:47:43 -0700

Hi Ron (and Tsu Yang),

I was out of town so didn't have a chance to comment on this earlier.

Regarding Durian vs. Amorphophallus smells:

I related most of this story on aroid-l a few months ago, so sorry for the

I brought into work both A. bulbifer and Sauromatum tubers that bloomed.  In
each case these eventually smelled up the room they were in and had to be
moved to a fume hood.  A few months earlier, however, there was a semi-panic
when a noxious smell filled the entire floor (not just one room).  Thinking
that there must have been some sort of chemical spill, people called the
chemical safety department!  I recognized the smell as Durian but people
were not convinced it could be a "mere" fruit.  Eventually the remains were
found in a trash container--a Vietnamese janitor had snacked on a Durian.
Chemical safety had arrived but their services were unneeded.

I have tried Durian once.  It was a thawed frozen one, so I realize the
taste was inferior.  Maybe I will have to taste one of the "fresh" ones
available in the market these days (although I realize these are still
inferior to "real" fresh ones).  I wouldn't say that I liked the fruit, but
I didn't detest it.  The smell was unpleasant though, so we had to put the
carcass outside.  The next morning it was covered with dozens of (not
small!) metallic green beetles.  I had not noticed these beetles running
around the yard prior to this--presumably the scent of the fruit was a big
draw.   Ron, I really like the idea of the dual scent features of the fruit
and the resultant attraction of large consumers and seed spreaders while
repelling the little guys (perhaps the "thorns" play a role here too??).  It
makes a lot of sense.  My experience with the beetles seems possibly in
conflict with this, though.  Perhaps the repulsive phenomenon is only with
the unopened or partially cracked open (ripe) fruit, but after it has been
mostly gnawed at things change?  I'm curious if you have any ideas.

I actually don't have anything against Spaths.  I gave my mom one a couple
of years ago.

Just curious: You mention your "Brit humour".  I was under the impression
that you are Irish and that they don't like to be called Brits (which I
thought is restricted to people from Great Britain).  Do I have this wrong?


>From: "Ron Iles" <roniles@eircom.net>
>To: <aroid-l@lists.ncsu.edu>
>Subject: [aroid-l] Debate about Stink (Re-fumigated)
>Date: Sat, Sep 14, 2002, 2:40 PM

> In a unseemly haste to answer, I did not edit this epistle as much as I
> should to make it less incoherent before the draft "got away", again, &
> during one of the frequent power cuts due to insufficient fossil fuel at
> power stations, the version being fumigated between several tap dancing
> lessons was lost.  Here is what may be the almost definitive undefinable 10
> MB version the less illiterate cross-eyed incongruity of which I hope will
> not be flushed from the annals of Aroid-L.
>> Randy,
>> I enjoyed your humour.  Yes of course I know Durian, when most ripe it is
> said to be like eating custard through ****
> So I return the fibrous matter for your (in)digestion.   It should not
> necessarily
> be regarded as adding to the real Natural History of either your
> Durian or your Titanum.  I hope my fiction is as interesting as some of
> that which
> I recently received
> Stinky Durians are eaten either by unsmelling
> animals, or coprophiles or coprophobes that can stand the stink before they
> eat the custard within. The purpose of the Durian like all fruit is to
> disperse seeds.  One reason for the stink is to repel little coprophobes
> that would
> burrow into the hard unripe fruit & make it drop prematurely next to the
> parent
> tree which would not be good for wide dispersal.  Having repelled the little
> b***** the soft stinky is then free to ripen, drop, break in half & voila
> along
> will come a BIG
> hungry lumbering bear (bigger than a Titan Member) or some other animal that
> can carry it & knows about the custard & that animal then runs away
> manically with
> the whole darn lot & scatters seed for miles & miles.   (see the cartoon
> which wouldn't go on Aroid-L).  So, you see THAT's why there
> are so many stinky Durians everywhere.  So, the stink of the Durian is to
> REPEL.  Ok
> with the story so far?
> The stink of A. titanum ATTRACTS little coprophiles to pollinate them.  But
> what creatures disperse the non-smelling useless fruit?  Apparently the now
> endangered hornbill which is stink blind anyway?  Maybe
> there are other non smelling creatures to take its place when that too is
> gone?  I assume titanum fruit are not stinky otherwise it couldn't be
> dispersed by high class coprophobes?.   Smellers are surely not going to go
> near a fruiting titanum to eat its fruit if stinky flowering plants are all
> around,  If
> the stinking titanum inflorescences were mixed up with fruited plants the
> large coprophobes might not come at all.  Maybe some smelling
> animals which know about the glorious custard would rush into the stink grab
> the thing & run like hell as far away as possible?    If they are BIG
> coprophiles & there were forests of these stinks maybe they'd eat the mighty
> inflorescences too.  Then what use would your beast be to posterity if its
> member was eaten before it had done its job?  If now that the hornbills have
> crocked maybe its a good thing that Amorphos are solitary so they can still
> attract the little coprophiles when they're on heat & other big unsmelling
> smelly animals who will run away like hell with the fruit after the member
> has made little seeds?   Effective pollination for solitaries depends on
> their making
> enough stink to fumigate a County.  OK so they can do that?  Effective seed
> dissemination by decently smelling animals depends on absence of stink?
> Titanum stink is needed both to attract to pollinate & to repel coprophiles
> which might otherwise eat entire virgin members.   So as those dratted
> Titans &
> Hornbills get more & more sparse is it now single stink molecule sensitive
> coprophiles for conception, & big stupid brave glutton coprophobes for
> delivery?
> Are you OK still?
> One A. titanum in any region is enough because the stink is extremely
> potent, &
> its coprophilic pollinators extremely sensitive to its noxious odour
> molecules at astronomice distances.  High density of members & suffocating
> stink would drive away or anaesthetise even maybe those pollinator
> flies & finally discourage all seed dissemination by "alternative"
> coproPHOBES & turn
> other forms of life competing for the same habitats into rabid
>> Phalloidophobes & little butchers envious of giant symbolic phalli.  This
> gestalt explains the low density of the titanums which you said was actually
> the case.
> I am a coprophobe & my earliest toilet training was successful.  I
> have passed fully through the normal infants pre-occupation with its own
> litter about ninety five years ago.So I tolerate
> the sight of absurdly & impractically sized members symbols at amused
> distances whilst
> remaining true to my decently learned coprophobia by wearing healthy
> protective nose filters.  So for me one titanum per square kilometre is
> enough, too much
> actually.
> To keep Titanum numbers at levels just above extinction to keep we
> modernists popular with the damn conservationists, like the rest of the
> useless jungle, I suggest we graze the darn Titanum to a just sustainable
> minimum with adequate but not too
> stupid coprophobes to make maximum politically expedient space to grow
> Durian.
> I do not eat my beloved Spathiphyllum.  But DO try them they are toxic.
> You might also try the psychological aphrodisiac & creative inspirational
> effects of working in an environment where the perfume of these wonders,
> like that of a heavenly woman emanates at high concentration.  Dreamy, Man.
> Works wonders for your romance life & can gives that special  "lift" to
> jaded Members such as maybe yourselves.
> Although it does not have the magical psychological effects of Spathifeelia,
> I eat Durian flesh avidly as available & in the bush that of course assists
> in the wider dispersal of the through litter
> scatter   RIPE Durian stink may be chemically & functionally
> different from that of Titanum certainly not as subtle as that of
> Spathifeelia.   Apparently it does not attract flies even when grown as
> mighty
> forests.  In such forests, after a while even coprophobic noses would surely
> become
> acclimatised to the stink as their owners indulge
> gluttonously in custard feasts.
> People do not apparently banquet near
> phalloids maybe because the sight of them makes them think about other
> things & the
> stink further puts them off the thought of food.  In that way Amorphos might
> be
> ideal as slimming aids for obese people & aphrodisiacs if they were in
> otherwise need.of Viagra.
> I need further information on this for marketing.
> You wrote "Around here people associate Spaths with funerals".   How old
> fashioned!  Yes, of course!  THEY ARE PEACE LILIES & as you may not realise,
> Peace
> is as important in Life as after Death....  In early Europe & maybe even in
> your seemingly admitted superstitious & therefore primitive regions, White
> Arums (Zantedeschia aethiopica) are used at
> funerals, again as symbols of Peace & fertlitity.  The perverted association
> between pure white aroids & Death may have been started
> after the > Middle Ages as the "flowers" came to be used at the endings of
> heretics such as
> myself.  Such superstitions
> have  largely died out in modern Societies where White Arums, Anthurium &
> SPATHS are now widely used at weddings for suggestive reasons & for bouquets
> which have to be more posh than carnations.   I have
> no converse record of A. titanum being a Peace or fertility symbol at
> nuptuals even for obese Viagra deficient patients tying their knots..
> So - please respond to my reluctant amorphophilia by overcoming
>> your seeming illogical & unenlightened prejudice towards the elegant &
> beguiling simple Peace Lilies which as a creative stylishly inconcupiscent
> artist I love & need.  They are perfumed, Amorphos stink, Durian are both.
> You & your responders seemed confused about these facts & I have tried to
> help you probably unsuccessfully.  So I end with the Prayer, "May Durians be
> everywhere & stinkies keep
> respectful distance from all of us who are not overweight, not getting
> married & not needing Viagra.   Let there be a Spathifeelia in every shower
> & playroom & if you are a Man you need never fear an Amorpho again.  Amen.
> I trust you understand Brit humour & hope you enjoyed this
> simple story.  Brace yourself for the next instalment by Ron Naughty.  It
> may get worse, far worse
> If you have read this to the end & actually understood what I ACTUALLY wrote
> in this hyperbolic parable that is one of us.  Maybe IAS could give you a
> medal or something?.
> Durian
>> >
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Randy Story" <story@caltech.edu>
>> To: <aroid-l@lists.ncsu.edu>
>> Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2002 6:52 AM
>> Subject: Re: [aroid-l] How does A. titanum do it?
>> Ron,
>> I assume you've never been around a durian fruit.  People who live in the
>> same part of the world as A. titanum consider durian to be a delicacy and
>> somehow put up with that ungodly stench.  There are many, many more
> durians
>> than there are A. titanums!
>> Around here people associate Spaths with funerals.
>> Randy
>> ----------

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