There are plants that show Mother Nature’s creativity rivals that of any artist, poet or composer. There are also plants that are so weird you’d find it hard to even imagine them. It is in aid of the latter type that we have created this article to list the weirdest plants that you perhaps haven’t heard of.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Antoine Hubert
The Rafflesia arnoldii, also known as the Corpse Lilly, has no leaves, stems or roots. The giant bloom is the world’s largest flower and can reach over three feet (1 meter) and weigh up to 24 pounds (11 kg). The flower is a red, fleshy color with white bumps. The hole in the center of the flower can hold up to 7 quarts (6.6 L) of water. This plant is parasitic and has an offensive odor of decaying flesh. The flower is rare and hard to find in its native habitat of rainforests of Bengkulu, Sumatra Islands and Indonesia.
Like the Rafflesia arnoldi, the Amorphophallus titanum is a carrion flower due to its odor similar to the scent of a decomposing mammal. The name is from Ancient Greek amorphos (without form, misshapen) and phallos (phallus) and titan (giant). The bloom (inflorescence) is usually taller than a man at 7 to 12 feet (2 to 3.6 meters) tall. Also known as the titan arum, this plant grows native on limestone hills in openings of Sumatra, Indonesia rain forests. The titan arum can grow for ten years or more before its first bloom, and can take up to ten years between blooms.
Also known as “doll’s eyes,” this plant and it’s berries are poisonous to humans. The berries, the most toxic part of the plant, can cause immediate cardiac arrest. Although fatal to man, the berries are harmless to birds. This perennial plant grows up to 2 feet (50 cm) tall and 3 feet (1 meter) wide. Alternately known as bane berry, the plant grows in hardwood and mixed forest stands with clay soil. The fruit is a 4 in (10 cm) round, white berry with a black stigma spot, which gives the plant its nickname of “doll’s eyes.”
Commonly known as the “sundews,” and comprised of more than 194 species, the Drosera is the largest genus of carnivorous plants. The name comes from the Greek for dew or dewdrops, “drosos.” Drosera capture and digest insects to supplement the poor nutrition of their soil. All Drosera have in common the grandular tentacles ending in secretions. These secretions give the plant their common name of “sundews.” Sweet scents emitting from the plant lure small insects and the secretions entrap and smother or suffocate the insects. Drosera grow in moist or wet climates with much sunlight and acidic soil.
Why is the common fig one of the 7 weirdest plants you’ve never heard of? A number of figs are pollinated by wasps which are born and die inside the fig fruit. Males live out their entire short lives in one fig. Female wasps are born in one fig then fly to another to deposit their eggs and die in that fig. The dead wasps are broken down by the enzymes within the fig fruit.
This type of orchid is understandably known as the “fly orchid.” The inflorescence is shaped like a fly and, along with the scent they release mimicking female sexual pheromones, lures males flies to pollinate as they attempt to mate with the flower. Other orchids which have flowers which look like animals include Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera), Monkey Face Orchids (Dracula simia), Pink Moth Orchid (Orchidaceae Phalaenopsis) which looks like a bird face, White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata) and the Holy Ghost Orchid (Peristeria elata) which has a dove in its flower. Orchids are one of the two largest families of flowering plants (along with Asteraceae). The number of orchid species is twice that of bird species, four times the amount of mammal species. Vanilla is an orchid.
Nepenthes bicalcarata is known as the “Fanged Pitcher Plant” due to the two thorns over the mouth of the pitcher. This plant is often inhabited by ants (usually a variety of carpenter ant) and the two species live symbiotically. The plant gets most of its nitrogen from ant waste and, occasionally, ant remains. Ants work as a team to remove prey from the fluid in the pitcher and during this up to 12-hour struggles, their eliminations are digested by the fluid.
Josh writes on behalf of GreenPlantSwap an exciting new gardening service in the UK designed to give gardeners a free online platform to buy, sell and exchange plants. We hope to inspire to a community of gardeners online to not only share plants but knowledge and expertise.