When we talk of fragrant flowers we naturally think of sweetly scented blooms and the pleasure to be obtained from sticking your nose into the flower to smell the perfume. This is part of the joy of gardening, but there are some flowers whose scent is disagreeable to our senses and ten of these are described in this article by David Beaulieu which I found on the About.com website.

Your first impression may be that it borders on oxymoron to speak of bad-smelling flowers. Isn’t the blossom symbolic of fine fragrance? Rose blossoms certainly are, for which we have such proverbial expressions as:
  • “Stop to smell the roses”
  • “He came up smelling like roses”

Be that as it may, pointing out that a plant has bad-smelling flowers is not exactly a man-bites-dog story. The phenomenon occurs a bit more often than you might think. And I am not even including those strong-scented blooms, such as Easter lilies, over which people are divided, some listing them among the fragrant flowers, others finding the odor offensive.
Nor is the focus of the information below on bad-smelling flowers that you can find on just about any web search on the subject, many of which dwell in the warmer regions of the globe. Instead, my main focus is on bad-smelling flowers that gardeners in the North are more likely to encounter. The examples I list below may not stink as badly as the notoriously foul-scented “corpse plant” (Amorphophallus titanum) of Sumatra or its somewhat smaller relative, Amorphophallus konjac (the snake lily), but the average reader of this site is much more likely to have dealings with them in everyday life.

1.? Crown Imperial

Regal-looking crown imperial shown in photo. Despite its beauty, it stinks to high heaven! - David Beaulieu
Picture of crown imperial. David Beaulieu


The blossoms of spring hold a special place in our hearts, an observation that is doubly true for those who garden in the North and must endure long, harsh winters. A subset of spring-bloomers remarkable in its diversity is the group we know as the spring bulb plants. Consider, for example, just the range in height from the tiny snowdrops to the rather imposing crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis).
Crown imperial also contrasts nicely with another of its bulbous compatriots: hyacinth. But here, the contrast pertains to scent. Hyacinth wafts a sweet perfume on the spring breezes; but crown imperial gives off a skunk scent! Bad-smelling flowers or not, though, I would definitely recommend its use in your landscaping. Its orange flowers make a strong statement in the spring garden.

Go to the next page for more flowers whose scent is distinctly unpleasant to us humans.

I am a keen gardener and so created Garden Pics and Tips for people who love gardens and enjoy great pictures of plants and gardens. Also covered are practical tips on all aspects of gardening.