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Kill Her With Flowers

AV’s top five worst flower choicesfor Valentine’s Day.
Or best, depending on the desired effect…

How many times has your girl gotten a dozen reds on Valentine’s Day? Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Instead, knock her out with one of these. Although the smell may literally knock her out, if an immediate allergy attack doesn’t, on the plus side you only need spring for one. If you can find it. And unlike the self-explanatory forget-me-not, which is, contradictorily, quite forgettable, if you present your love with one of these you are guaranteed a permanent space in her memory bank—if not in her heart.

Rafflesia arnoldii

Rafflesia arnoldii

Street name “carrion flower” or “corpse flower.” The largest individual flower on earth, it is also one of the ugliest and emits a strong odor of decaying flesh. It lives as a parasite in the undisturbed rainforests and lacks any observable leaves, stems, roots, or other flower-like structures. It has been described as having spots that make it look like a teenager’s acne-ridden skin and it has a gaping hole in the center with a six- or seven-quart capacity. Not to be confused with the titan arum (see below), which is also commonly referred to as the “corpse flower.”

Amorphophallus titanium (titan arum)

Commonly known as the “corpse flower,” this plant’s name actually means “giant misshapen penis,” and it is thought to be the worst-smelling flower on earth. Its stench of decomposing mammal is emitted to attract the carrion-eating beetles and “flesh flies” that pollinate it. It is neither parasitic nor carnivorous, however, so it has that going for it.

Nepenthes truncata

This carnivorous pitcher plant species is endemic to the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It carries the distinction of being the only plant in captivity to have ever been observed actually eating mice, and has been known to occasionally catch other small mammals in the wild. So your sweetheart can keep this around by feeding it live mice with a pair of chopsticks, just like a snake.

Cornus canadensis

This one is nice and pretty. Very delicate. It doesn’t even smell that bad at first whiff. But each of these little flowers has highly elastic petals that flip backwards, releasing springy filaments that are cocked underneath. These snap upward, catapulting pollen up to six meters out of containers hinged to the filaments with 800 times the force exerted by the Space Shuttle during liftoff. This happens in half a millisecond and is one of the fastest plant actions in the world. This should cause a violent sneezing fit, and you know what they say about sneezing? If you do it seven times in a row it has the same intensity as an orgasm. (This is not true.)

Orchids have an exotic association and a powerful fragrance that makes some people sick. They are beautiful, unique, and need special care, so they may a be perfectly symbolic gift for the more high-maintenance mate.


Otherwise known as “stinkhorns,” these are not really flowers but fungi. They are so disgusting, however, that they make this list anyway. There are many varieties of stinkhorn, but the plant is mainly characterized by its production of a brownish, sticky spore mass that oozes from the the tip and which looks and smells like—you guessed it—feces. (Cat feces, to be exact.) The plants are edible, when its eggs are fried, and it has been described as having a “fishy” taste. According to an article in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, the smell of a certain variety of this plant can trigger spontaneous orgasms in human females. (This is also not true.) We tried to find a picture of this plant that wasn’t too obscene to print, but we couldn’t.

For serious now…

The red rose is the traditional symbol of love and passion so you can only err by being boring. And some people think roses smell like funerals, so there’s that.

Lilies signify innocence and purity and are thus ideal for the budding romance. Lilies, like roses, come in an array of colors. Beware the yellow/orange variety of anything, as these can alternately mean something sweet or something sour. For example, yellow roses can mean friendship or jealousy/infidelity; yellow tulips reportedly signify hoppeless love; yellow carnations mean rejection; orange lilies mean greed and selfishness. Don’t go with lavender, which means distrust, or oleander, which is an out-and-out threat. Not to mention being deathly poisonous.

Of course, keep in mind that although this is all purportedly ancient wisdom, none of it is actually true. Your floral gift means exactly what you want it to mean.

k. o’day

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