Really Weird Plants
Plants shape the Earth, from the tundra to the rainforest to the desert. Directly or indirectly plants give us all of the food we eat and all of the oxygen we breathe. There are over 250,000 species of plants on Earth - ferns, conifers, flowering plants and the diversity is staggering. Strange and unusual plants abound from those that are so small hundreds of them could fit onto the tip of a pin to those that have leaves over 6 feet in length. There are those that ever so silently strangle other plants and those that need no soil with which to grow. Some are deadly when eaten, others are carnivores themselves.
This page contains a wee bit of plant trivia and information on some of the more bizarre and unusual plants out there - check them out and let me know what you think. If you know of a really weird plant that you think should be featured, let me know that too and I'll add it in!
Pictured here: Looks so unassuming and innocent, but the water hemlock is anything but. According to the USDA it's "the most violently toxic plant in North America". The flowers and stems are safe, but the stalky roots contain chambers that are full of a deadly sap containing the convulsant cicutoxin. Grand mal seizures are followed by a quick death if even a tiny amount is consumed.
photo source: http://webecoist.com/2008/09/16/16-most-unassuming...
The Giant Corpse Flower - Also Known As the "Misshapen Penis"
The Giant Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum is truly a giant, reaching heights of up to 6 feet with the largest one ever recorded reaching a staggering 9 feet high. That's just the flower; the plant itself can reach up to 20 feet high, 15 feet across and up to 170 lbs in weight. The plant only flowers every 1 - 3 years and the flower only lasts about 2 days so consider yourself lucky if you actually get to see one in bloom. However, you may not be so lucky as the Corpse Flower has a terribly wicked odor - one of rotting eggs or dead animals, hence the name Corpse Flower, so you really don't want to get too close.
The cause of the flowers horrible smell is still under investigation but most likely there are sulfurous chemicals present, creating the rotten egg smell. This smell attracts flies and beetles that usually lay eggs in rotting flesh and these insects help to pollinate the plant. The smell is so strong it can be detected from up to a half a mile away.
In years that the plant is not flowering, it unfurls a single leaf which looks like a small tree with many small leaflets. This leaf must then be shed in preparation for flowering and the plant must then sit dormant for up to 4 months in order to muster its energy reserves for making a new flower.
photo source: http://www.geekygirlengineer.com/corpse-flower/
The Nipple Plant
The Nipple plant also known as the Cows Udder plant is a hardy perennial with large velvety leaves, small purple flowers and firm thorns. Its showy yellow nipple shaped fruit is related to the tomato. Unlike the tomato however, it's quite poisonous. It does have some medicinal properties though and can also be used as a detergent for washing clothes. The fruit can even last up to two months which is a long time in relation to fruits. It is native to South America.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the single-seeded fruit of the giant fan palm, or Lodoicea maldivica, can weigh 44 lbs. Commonly known as the double coconut or coco de mer, it is found wild only in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
Check Out Some Carnivorous Plants - The venus flytrap and the trumpet plant
This video clip is from a BBC film series called The Private Life Of Plants. I teach biology and often show films form the series. David Attenborough the narrator is great!
The Worlds Largest Flower
Another plant that has a really foul smelling flower is the Rafflesia arnoldii. This flower is actually the largest single flower in the world (though you may hear that the corpse flower is, when actually the flowers of the corpse flower are tiny and found clustered at the base of the stem) and can grow up to 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 lbs. Like the Corpse Flower above, it is found in the rainforests of Sumatra. And like the Corpse Flower, its odor is similar to that of rotting meat, again to attract insects that pollinate it.
This plant is actually a parasite plant, as it has no visible leaves, roots, or stems. It attaches itself to a host plant (the Tetrastigma vine) to obtain water and nutrients. Buds of the flower take many months to develop and the flower itself lasts only a few days making this plant rather difficult to find. In addition, since the primary rainforests of Sumatra are rapidly disappearing, the Rafflesia arnoldii is currently considered an endangered species.
photo source: http://www.parasiticplants.siu.edu/Rafflesiaceae/Raff.arn.page.html
Another Big Weird Smelly Plant
This is the flower of Hydnora africana, a plant from the Hydnoraceae family. All plants in this family are parasitic. The Hydnora africana emits a putrid smell from a structure within it called a bait body. This smell attracts its main pollinators which are dung beetles. Numerous stiff bristles found on the inner surface of the bait body restrain the trapped beetles from escaping. After feeding on the bait bodies, the trapped beetles drop down the flower tube onto the anthers collecting pollen all over their bodies. They then drops even further down onto the soft cushion-shaped stigma thus pollinating the flower.
Most striking is this plants complete lack of leaves making it look more like a fungus than a plant and it really is only distinguishable from fungi when the flower has opened. Although it has no leaves, it does have roots and stems which all grow underground. It produces a fruit, also underground, which is edible and very starchy. A fully grown, ripe fruit from a Hydnora africana may measure up to 80 mm. The fruit is slightly sweet and contains up to 20,000 small pinhead sized seeds. These fruits are enjoyed by mammals such as porcupines, moles, baboons, jackal and also birds. The seeds are not digested and can therefore germinate when excreted by animals.
Hydnora africana is found in dry and semi arid areas from the western coast of Namibia, southwards to the Cape and then northwards throughout Swaziland, Botswana, KwaZulu-Natal and as far as Ethiopia. It is not easily encountered but it is not considered rare or endangered.
photo source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HydnoraAfricanaKarasburgDistrictNamibia2002Musselman.jpg
The oldest living thing in existence is not a giant redwood, but a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California, dated to be aged 4,600 years old.
The Pitcher Plant
Here's another one from David Attenborough and the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants.
Learn More About The Pitcher Plant - Or perhaps grow your own at home
A Plant That Can Walk!
Perhaps you think you've seen it all but have you seen the plant that can actually walk? The walking palm is a palm tree native to the rainforests of central and South America. Its stilt like roots enable it to walk, towards the sun at a rate of 1 meter per year.
photo source: http://travel.mongabay.com/pix/peru/manu-Manu_1022_1870.html
Really Bizzare And Really Old
The Welwitschia mirabilis
The Welwitschia mirabilis is considered a living fossil. It grows only 2 leaves from a short, thick, woody trunk. These leaves grow continuously. As the grow to about 2 - 4 m in size, they become split into several sharp sections and its sometimes hard to see the 2 leaf origin. They grow out sideways and absorb water through some strange features on their leaves that allow them to collect dew left on the leaves during the evening.
Welwitschia mirabilis is one of the oddest plants in existence and one of the longest lived, living 1,000 to 2,000 years! This species has separate male and femal plants and is a gymnosperm, so it makes cones. A fair number of plants are said to exist in the wild but it is considered endangered due to its very slow growth and the fact that older plants are often sought by collectors.
photo source: http://fackelmann.name/namibia/content/2007_08_19_123006_large.html
Orchids have the smallest seeds. It takes more than 1.25 million seeds to weigh 1 gram.
The GIANT Water Lilly - its Pretty Amazing...
David Attenborough and the BBC series The Private Lives of Plants yet again.
Bamboo grows faster than any other plant. It can grow nearly a metre (39.4 in) in one day - about the same as you grew in the ten years after you were born.
15 Eccentric Endangered Trees, Plants, and Flowers
- 15 Eccentric Endangered Trees, Plants, and Flowers
So rare, so bizarre and so endangered. Check this link out if you would like to see more
let me know what you think