Lecture: Why flowers stink

2013-04-17 00:00

WHY certain flowers give off a smell like rotting meat is the subject of a talk by a leading scientist in Pietermaritzburg tomorrow.

Andreas Jürgens will present a lecture entitled “The smell of decay is their perfume: how carrion flowers attract pollinators”.

His talk, part of the Royal Society of South Africa’s lecture series, will take place at 5.45 pm at the John Bews Lecture Theatre on the Life Sciences campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Carbis Road.

Carrion flowers exhibit bizarre, almost macabre, features: some look hairy, imitating the body of a dead animal, others produce heat similar to that of a carcass, and almost all of them emit a scent reminiscent of carrion or dung. Flies can’t resist visiting these flowers, and pollinate them, often without reward.

Such flowers show that scent production is all about attracting pollinators to achieve sexual reproduction.

Jürgens is an internationally recognised scientist in the field of floral scent and chemical ecology. Since 2007 he has been a senior lecturer at the School of Life Sciences, UKZN, in Pietermaritzburg.

His work on the chemical ecology of carrion flowers, including stapeliads and rafflesias, has been in collaboration with research groups in South Africa, Germany, the U.S. and Malaysia.

Light refreshments will be supplied.

Inquiries: Call Mike Perrin, at 033 260 5118/5435.

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