By Caroline Pride
The nose knows, but does it really?
Many students on Lee campus are oblivious to an entire world living right under their noses. And that world stinks.
Sausage trees and wiffleball stinkhorns are the culprits of odors on our campus. These plants and fungi both depend on smells to attract pollinator insects.
“I’ve never really noticed [the plants],” said Amir Iqbal, a freshman computer science major. “I’m always in a rush.”
The wiffleball stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber) grows in a matter of hours after rainfall in the mulched gardens around the S Building. The fungus, also known as basket stinkhorn, displays a bright red color and rubbery texture.
The stinkhorn releases an odor like rotting meat before it shrivels up in the sun. Passing students may notice a stink, but flies and ants that pollinate the fungus can’t get enough!
More stinky phantoms include the trees in the Mary Jo Sanders Garden of Inspiration.
Commonly known as sausage trees (Kigelia africana), these African trees have thick trunks and numerous rope-like stalks that bloom bright red flowers and large sausage-shaped fruits.
The flowers produce a bitter and earthy scent that attracts bees and other insects to collect nectar and pollen.
Fortunately, with the sausage tree’s blooming season and wet season coming to a close, students won’t have to put up with the stink for much longer.
Keep an eye, and nose, out for these smelly plants around campus!