For the gardener who wants to try growing something unusual, carrion flower (Stapelia gigantea) is a cactus-like succulent that certainly fits the bill.
The plant has squared-off, spineless stems that grow to form a clump. Each winter, carrion flower blooms with starfish-shaped flowers that can be ten inches across. They're typically a mottled red, yellow, brown, or purple.
The flowers are eye-catching, but it's their fragrance that truly catches your attention. That's because they smell like rotting meat. But people find that the beauty of the flowers far outweighs their unusual smell.
It's best to grow this tender plant as a houseplant or in a container that can be moved to a protected location when cold weather strikes.