I've sometimes wondered: Do we love flowers because they are beautiful and colorful, with perfumes and sweet nectar? Or do we just happen to love color and nectar and floral perfume because they are the signals that plants have used for a hundred million years to advertise their proffered concentrations of food and nutrients - and so we have been hardwired to quiver in delight at these signals.
(And honey, as literally the distillation of this entire seduction, is the ultimate in nature's foods.)
I've wondered: If a hundred million years ago plants had chosen the carrion flies, rather than the sugar sippers, to be their pollinators, would the world be full of plants reeking of rotting flesh? And would we be happy connoisseurs of decay and the smell of fly-beloved shit, and would we surround ourselves with gardens decorated with "flowers" comprised of fleshy petals of meat and offal?
I've always liked that idea of the path not taken - of a humanity where grandmothers send each other cards not of saccharine violet bouquets, but decorated with careful, lovely illustrations of rotting flesh-roses.
The colony of octopus stinkhorn growing on a pile of discarded charcoal reminded of those wonderings. Here's a creature that took that path. It puts out its fleshy tentacles and attracts the flies with a heady odor of dogshit. And the flies do come.
And I'm sure the flies find the orange and stinking fungi beautiful and even quiver in delight.