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Really Weird Plants

Updated on December 12, 2013

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.

photo source:http://www.gardening-advisor.com/cows-udder-nipple-fruit.html

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.

let me know what you think

Thanks For Stopping By - I would love to hear from you

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Me too it helped me a lot!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      really weird plants thanks i needed a project for school!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      really weird plants thanks i needed a project for school!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks so much. This going to be filed as "slightly creepy" but morbidly fascinating... My daughter needed information for a school project and this information REALLY helps.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks so much. This going to be filed as "slightly creepy" but morbidly fascinating... My daughter needed information for a school project and this information REALLY helps.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @SteveKaye: The TickleMe Plant won't hurt a fly but kids love it because the leaves go crazy when you Tickle them! It is easy to grow with the TickleMe Plant Gift Box set

      Google it to see the video

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing. Thank you. I found more Weird plants on this site: http://veritas.ecrater.com/

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Had the chance to see (and smell) the bloom of the Corpse Flower while residing in Vancouver,BC. Every 100yrs I was told. Once in a life-time chance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great page, wonder if anyone can identify something for me. .I am digging it up while weeding. . It is like a white sack, anything from the size of a pee to a tangerine, soft with clear jelly inside, covering a round funghi type ball which is greeny brown on the outside layer covering a white centre. . It also has a white route system. . I am baffled!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Amazing plants! I've seen (and smelled) the Corpse Flower at the Fullerton Arboretum. It blooms in the evening and smells awful.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I like unusual plants and learned a few new ones here...didn't know about the walking palm. Thanks

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Know this, O worthy and diligent lensmaster;

      With accomplishment youâve earned a tryster.

      As a token of immense appreciation expressed,

      A squid angel leaves this lens heartily blessed.

      On a rendering that is sparkling in its own right,

      Propagating an appealing thought well and quite;

      If you were to notice a slender shimmering crust;

      From the angelâs wand, it is a spill of stardust.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      I really enjoy reading about unusual plants, and this lens has several that I've never heard of before. Nicely done!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      I always enjoy learning about unusual things and plants are no exception. Wonderful collection of very special plants and facts about them, thank you! :) Blessed! :)

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Some of these are SUPER creepy looking - and producing a smell like rotten meat is certainly not a very attractive quality, but *extremely* interesting! Great work on this lens!

    • grandma deal profile image

      grandma deal 6 years ago

      Great job on a great subject.

    • profile image

      erinlisa 6 years ago

      This was an excellent lens!! I thought I was a rebel gardener with my peter peppers! LOL! I need a corpse plant to get rid of unwanted visitors! LOL!. Thanks for a great article, very educational and interesting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      As with People, all thing have a Purpose and there are Never Any Mistakes, just misunderstanding! Be Unique and Except that which is Unique, thw World would be a Much Better & Brighter place for All!! (Plants, Animals and People!!)

    • itsmuzza2011 profile image

      itsmuzza2011 6 years ago

      misshapen penis? nipple plant? wow what's that all about? im afraid to leave the house now... cool work as usual well done

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love the walking palm it's so awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @BeaGabrielle1: no it is super interesting

    • BeaGabrielle1 profile image

      BeaGabrielle1 6 years ago

      Very interesting! It's the first time I've seen some of these plants! Like this on my FB page.

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, weird stuff. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love the TickleMe Plant the best! It is the only house plant that instantly closes its leaves and lowers its branches when you Tickle It!

    • profile image

      Plantastic 7 years ago

      The best is the TickleMe Plant http://www.ticklemeplant.com It is the only houseplant that instantly closes its leaves and lowers its branches when you Tickle It!! See video

    • profile image

      roysumit 7 years ago

      Thanks for enriching our knowledge about such weird plants. Great lens.

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 8 years ago from Benson, IL

      Whoa...Those are some weird plants! Loved the walking tree. 5* and faved!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Fascinating lens. Some of these plants are grown in Kew Gardens in the UK.