The Buffalo Turd

As some know, I’ve been using my ceramics to house unusual plants. I recently acquired a very bizarre plant from one of my favorite sources: Out Of Africa Nursery. This new fellow is formally known as Brachystelma barberae, but in my family we affectionately call him “the buffalo turd”. Why? Well, because in his dormant period he looks just like a buffalo turd: a flat brownish hard nodule sitting just atop the ground.

As the growing season begins, however, this specimen produces some really amazing flowers. Pictured in the top photograph to the right is the first shoot he sent up, which opened up into a dome-like flower. After a few months of slow leaf development, the plant produced two new flowers – but this time the the flowers were intertwined amidst the leaves (as shown in the bottom photo). Not quite as dramatic, but still very interesting.

Unbeknownst to me when I bought this specimen, it belongs to a group of plants that produce unusual scents that attract insects to help pollinate the species. The “unusual scent” this particular plant produces is quite reminiscent of … buffalo poop.

And when I say reminiscent I mean there is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind what this smells like during its 4-5 day bloom: fresh, recently-deposited, richly-aromatic buffalo shit. All the better to attract flies from the entire neighborhood!

At my wife’s suggestion, this new plant lives outside.

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