What’s That Stench? (Hint: it’s not carrion)

Exploring one of my favourite local patches of native vegetation, I noticed a pervasive smell on the air, which could be described as a proper pong along the lines of raw effluent. I looked around, but could see nothing obvious, so I carried on photographing small plants, including this one:

It’s a lovely little ground-hugging plant, with leaves like geranium and a subtle flower ball made up of dozens of tubular flowers, that grows in open woodland.

The penny only dropped much later, when I went to my favourite identification book of plants for this area, Birds and Plants of the Little Desert: a photographic guide by Ian Morgan, Graham Goods and Maree Goods (2014), and discovered that this plant’s common name says it all: Stinking Pennywort. I kid you not! 

As I continued to visit areas where this charming little plant (scientific name Hydrocotyle laxiflora) grew over the coming weeks, I realised that the smell was more like rotting vegetation in pond water, and grew accustomed to it, if not actually fond of it.

Olympus EPL7 with Panaleica 45mm macro.

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