One of the criteria I have for the roses I plant in my garden is that they must be fragrant. I hate those hybrids that look OK but have no smell. You might as well stick some plastic roses in the ground. Shakespeare got the point of a rose, after all, when he wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
Recently, though, I've become a little fixated on a flower currently blooming at the University of Illinois' Plant Biology Conservatory, Amorphophalus titanum. Native to Sumatra, it's more commonly known as the Corpse Flower, due to the Eau de Rotting Flesh fragrance it gives off when it flowers. Rotting flesh? Yes indeed--all the better to attract the carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it. To add to the illusion, the texture and reddish-purple color of the plant's large spathe, or petal. resembles...rotting meat. AND! If those things weren't clever enough, the temperature of the spadix, the baguette-shaped thing in the middle, rises to about 100 degrees, which helps release all of that lovely perfume into the air. Here's a picture I took this morning--it's not fully open, but oh, boy, does it smell...not like a rose.
Here's what it looks like when it's fully open. It's really kind of pretty, isn't it? Whether you call it Amorphophalus titanum or corpse flower or any other name, it still smells rotten.