You can follow your nose to find these plants.
I previously listed the flowers in the next photos as Carrion Flower (Smilax lasioneura). This identification was incorrect. This flower is actually Upright Carrion Flower (Smilax ecirrata). Upright Carrion Flower rarely reach over 2 - 3 feet in height and lack the tendrils that are present on S. lasioneura. Both species like a variety of habitats including forest, meadows, and stream banks. Both species feature ball-shaped flower clusters that measure about 1.5 inches across and is green colored. The flowers bloom during May and June in Mid-Michigan.
|Carrion Flower blooms|
The plant is named after its smell and lives up to its name - it smells like a rotting animal carcass. The first time I found this plant was by smell. I was able to smell the plant from more than 20 foot away. Any Carrion Flower in full bloom will usually have a swarm of small flies surrounding it.
Despite the odor, Carrion Flower plants are quite attractive. After pollination the plant develops clusters of inedible purple-black berries.
|Carrion Flower berries|
Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is another native wildflower that easily found by smell. Both the flower and leaves have a distinct odor. But unlike the Carrion Flower which blends in with its surroundings the Skunk Cabbage is hard to miss. It is among the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring, beginning in mid-March and continuing for two months. The flower blooms directly on the ground and is up to six inches tall. It has a brown to purple spathe (or hood) with green spots that covers a yellow-green spadix.
|Two blooms and an emerging leaf. The yellow-green spadix is visible inside the spathe.|
|Three more flowers|
|A large colony of Skunk Cabbage|
|A closeup of the leaves|