There are always stories about weird animals, both on land and in the ocean. However, you rarely ever hear of strange plants that are outside of the norm. Well, you’re about to discover some of the weirdest plants that exist on planet Earth. They’re so odd that you will feel obligated to tell your friends and family what you’ve learned. These plants do so much more than just photosynthesize and provide blooming flowers for bees and other insects. It remains a mystery how certain plants managed to evolve in these strange ways. Keep reading to learn about some of the weirdest plant species growing on Earth.
The Shyest Plant You’ll Ever Find
It’s called the shy plant because of how it reacts to the human touch. Scientifically known as Mimosa pudica, touching the compound leaves results in them closing. It will remain that way for a few minutes before opening up again. The shy plant also has this reaction when the sun goes down, likely to minimize evaporation from its leaves to retain moisture. You can see in the image how the plant will shut its leaves when someone touches it.
The hammer orchid is an endangered species of orchid that is doing everything that it can to survive. Because they’re only found in damp and swampy areas of Australia, that makes it difficult for them to pollinate.
Its clever disguise means the flowers are shaped like female wasps, which emit a pheromone that draws in the male wasps. This trick will cause the male wasp to try to mate with the flower, covering it in pollen in the process.
The dancing plant, also called Desmodium Gyrans, is a kind of dancing grass in most Asian countries. The plant is capable of moving its leaves around in a way that resembles semaphore signals. This movement is so that the plant can absorb as much sunlight as possible, increasing its output from photosynthesis. However, the leaves are quite large, resulting in a massive expenditure of energy just to move them around.
The pitcher plant is one of the carnivorous plants that exist out in the wild. They’re found in mostly swampy regions of the United States. The plant has a pitcher-like mechanism that it feeds with; by remaining open, rainwater can collect inside.
The pitcher’s inner walls are very slimy and covered in tiny downward-pointing hairs that prevent prey, namely insects, from getting out. After one slips in and drowns, the pitcher plant digests a new meal.
The cape sundew looks like an innocent-enough plant. Some people may even liken it to sticky candy. But this little plant is anything but sweet. This plant is carnivorous, catching and feasting on unsuspecting insects. Yes, this plant species eats meat to survive! The tendrils on its stalks are considerably sticky, meaning that anything that touches it gets stuck. And then its chow time for the cape sundew plant.
Check out the naked man orchid; you can see why it got that name. The flowers look like a tiny naked man with his private’s hanging out. Can’t you make out the body-like figure with two arms, two legs, and a third leg? A little adorable and a little crude at the same time. This orchid is found in the Mediterranean region, growing along the coasts with plenty of shine and lots of moisture in the air. However, their numbers are dwindling due to their medicinal use.
The suicide palm is as dramatic a name as it sounds. These palm trees can get as tall as 60 feet, towering over everything around them. They mostly grow in Madagascar, though there are very few left that grows in the wild.
Moreover, that’s because of the way they reproduce. Once a suicide palm gets to the end of its lifespan, the tips of the stems explode in a shower of tiny flowers that can be pollinated and turned into fruit. However, this act expends so much energy from the palm itself that the tree ends up dying shortly after.
The Venus flytrap is most likely the first carnivorous plant you’ve heard of as a child. The type of plant that not only eats meat, but does so by trapping its prey between it’s teeth-like leaves. It’s also become a popular plant to keep around the home because of their diet. The Venus flytrap enjoys feasting on flies and other insects — anything that happens to land between its jaws. There are tiny trigger hairs inside its mouth so that it knows when to close around prey and start digesting its meal.
The black bat flower is somewhat reminiscent of a flying bat, with its wings outstretched. Mostly found in African and Asian countries, the dark coloration of these flowers can be pretty intimidating. The long, feathery whiskers don’t help either. Don’t be intimidated by this flower, however. With some special care and expertise, it’s quite easy to grow these flowers in your backyard. From the dark shade to the unique cone-like shapes and fringe, you can see why people would love these unique plants.
This tree is not to be messed with at any time. It didn’t earn the title “tree of death” for nothing. It might look beautiful and green, but this isn’t a tree you should ever get close to if you ever see one.
First of all, the tree itself can release a thick sap that can burn the skin, causing severe injuries. Secondly, the fruit that it produces cannot be eaten as it will kill you. Lastly, the wood of this tree should not be burned, as the resulting smoke could lead to blindness. Just stay away from this one altogether.
The cobra lily is one of those plants that actually imitates a snake. Can you tell in the picture? The head of it looks just like a coiled snake, ready to strike at its prey. But that’s not the only thing menacing about it. This plant is also carnivorous. It is another kind of pitcher plant that fills with water and has slimy sides so that insects fall in and are trapped. The pitcher also emits a scent that attracts the insects inside.
This plant looks like it belongs on another planet. Called Hydnora africana, this plant acts more like a flea or tick than a plant. It has a parasitic relationship with other plants. It latches onto their roots and grows deeper underground, eating up all of the soil’s resources. The only visible part of the plant is the flower, which emits a smell akin to feces to attract certain beetles. And once they’re close enough, the flower traps them. Surprisingly, it doesn’t eat them.
This plant species looks almost fake. Rafflesia became popular in the 90s on its discovery because of how large it is and the smell that it emits. The rafflesia is known for being the largest flower in the world, with a 3-foot span. It emits a scent that’s like rotting meat, which is designed to attract specific insects towards it. Of course, not to eat them but to help spread their pollen so that more of these stinky flowers will grow. It can take up to nine months for a new plant to grow.
This plant is no longer alive but is an ancient ascendant of plants that do exist today. The Strychnos electri was discovered in 1986 by an Oregon State University entomologist in the Dominican Republic. There, he found tiny flowers trapped in amber that contain one of the deadliest poisons known to man: strychnine. That compound is used today in pesticides to keep insects from devouring crops.
Is this how you pictured the smallest flowering plant in the world? The rootless duckweed is an aquatic plant with no roots to speak of because it doesn’t need soil to grow. Instead, it floats on the surfaces of ponds and lakes, eating up nitrates from the water. What’s remarkable is that it is also the smallest flowering plant in the world, being only 1/32nd of an inch side. It can be a healthy addition to any pond, since it helps to balance out the water pH, but can quickly become a problem as it multiplies rapidly.
You see this plant, and you can only think of one thing: full lips wearing bright red lipstick. That’s why this plant has earned the name “hooker’s lips.” A little offensive, but still accurate as it looks like it is ready to give you a kiss.
The red parts of this plant are leaves, not petals of a flower. As the plant matures, the “lips” begin to part to reveal a multitude of tiny white and yellow flowers inside. Eventually, the red leaves begin to wither and die when the flowering season is over.
The parachute flower has a bizarre shape to it, actually looking like a billowing parachute. One would question why it has such a strange shape: there are no flowers and not many leaves.
Its design is how it flourishes. The small features in the center of the “flower” emit a scent that attracts insects inside. Then it keeps the insect trapped for a period until the flower withers. When the insect escapes, it will be covered in the plant’s pollen to pollinate another plant.
Having withered plants in our home is a sign that we’re not taking good care of them. The Welwitschia Mirabilis won’t hold it against you, however. This plant is created to continue living no matter how long it’s gone without water.
The only thing this plant grows is two leaves. Two leaves and nothing more, with a woody stem and some roots. Furthermore, get this: this plant can survive for up to five years without any water. Scientists have speculated that these plants can live up to a few thousand years.
Have you ever tried a chestnut? Yes, the kind that roast on an open fire during the wintertime. What about a water chestnut? The water caltrop possesses a fruit that has been used for centuries, especially in China. These edible fruits are what we call water chestnuts, which are quite delicious. Because of being used so widely, one species of water caltrops has gone extinct. Their most distinguishable by the rosette pattern of their leaves when they’re sitting on the water’s surface.
The flypaper plant earns its name. It is also called butterworts and is entirely carnivorous. The surface is covered in very tiny hairs that are quite sticky, making it impossible for small insects to get free. Then the plant devours them for its own sustenance. It might not be a bad idea to have one of these around your home if you have an insect problem. They’ll snatch up all the flies and spiders that may be plaguing your house.
The strangler only knows how to take and take. It cannot live on its own without robbing the other plants around it of their nutrients. It may seem tame enough by all appearances, but it is playing a long waiting game.
Its roots grow deep into the ground that rob all of the nutrients from the soil for itself. Moreover, to make things worse, it becomes much taller than the other plants around it so that it takes all of the sunlight for itself. Talk about a selfish plant.
The baseball plant aptly got its name from its appearance. Not only does it have a sphere-like shape, but there appears to be a ‘stitching’ within the leaves as well. It originates from South Africa and has been harvested from the region due to its unusual appearance. That means that fewer of them out in the wild as avid gardeners try to make them a part of their landscaping. It is a form of succulent, which means that it stores water within its body. The baseball plant doesn’t need much watering, or it could end up with root rot.
The Victoria water lily has large lily pads on the planet. They’re so big and sturdy that a grown adult could sit inside one without sinking. This robustness is due to their structural network of veins underneath that distribute weight event to prevent the lily pad from taking on water. They can get as big as six feet across and is covered with thorns on the underside to prevent the leaves from being eaten by herbivores.
Called the Rose of Jericho, this plant knows how to protect itself when there is very little water around. It is a desert plant with stems spread in every direction. One could say it kind of looks like a fern.
When there is no water around, the Rose of Jericho will curl in on itself and start to shrivel, taking on a grey-green appearance while trying to save itself. It remains in this curled ball until the next rainfall, where it will unfurl itself once more to take in moisture.
The rat-eating pitcher plant is not like the other pitcher plants that have been mentioned in this article. Those pitcher plants focused on eating insects. This plant, however, is so large that it can ingest an entire rat.
It is one of the largest meat-eating plants in the world, standing at around four feet tall. Instead of using scents to attract their prey, they use nectar to entice animals to drink. Once they fall in, however, they’re trapped in the sticky sap and are digested by the plant’s acidic juices.
The baobab tree is one of the most renowned trees in the world. Found in African countries, Australia, and Madagascar, they have a very stark appearance against the horizon, growing straight up into the air with their giant trunks. However, those trunks aren’t solid wood: they’re hollow on the inside, allowing them to store as much as 300 liters of water. That’s great for these trees that grow in the middle of the desert. There unique size, features, and overall appearance made this list of strange plant species!
Found around the mountains of central Mexico, the golf ball plant is a cactus that looks exactly like a golf ball. It’s round and white and covered in spines that keep it protected from the harsh sunlight. During the flowering season, it sprouts tiny pink flowers that are quite pretty to look at, making them an attractive commodity for anyone with a green thumb. Unfortunately, its habitat is being taken over by housing development, resulting in a shrinking of their numbers. Whether it is white or pink with flowers, this tiny plant almost looks like a ball of fluff — fore!
The majestic name of this strange tree is the dragon’s blood tree. It can only be found on the Yemen coast and is distantly related to palm trees. It is known for two things: its 2-foot long leaves and the resin that flows within. It is a dark reddish color, almost resembling blood. Because of its use in dyes and medicines, these trees are being cut down all the time, requiring conservation efforts. Hopefully you can see this beautiful tree, along with some others on this epic list, before they are all gone.
Some flowers are meant to imitate other insects to further pollination. But this orchid decides to look like a flying duck for some reason. Found in the southern hemisphere of Australia and New South Wales, the flower is a reddish-brown that much resembles a bird in flight.
No one knows what purpose this adaptation serves, but it’s still beautiful to behold. Gardeners won’t succeed trying to get this plant to grow outside of Australia, as its growth is dependent on a fungus that is indigenous only to the continent-country.
Don’t be fooled by the name of this plant. Even though it’s called a tomato, there is no reason to try and pick the fruits this plant produces. It grows to at least five feet and is completely covered in orange thorns that aren’t pleasant, and two, are very poisonous. The plant is wholly riddled with toxins, so there’s no point in trying to eat any part of it whatsoever. It’s best to leave this plant alone. Besides, the more you look at, the more dangerous this not-so-pretty plant appears!
While the rafflesia is one of the most giant flowers globally, the corpse flower is the tallest. It’s taller than a man and exudes the smell of roadkill. It doesn’t help that the flower is a deep burgundy color that also looks like rotting meat. These are designed to attract carrion-eating insects to spread the flower’s pollen. And it has to do this quickly too. The flower doesn’t bloom for very long, and then it withers to a shriveled husk. From the picture it doesn’t seem so bad, but leave this tall, smelly plant alone.
The Japanese umbrella pine is considered one of the oldest pine trees – and trees – in the world. It’s indigenous to only Japan, and there are no other closely related species, putting it in a class of its own.
The trees grow at a prolonged rate, as it can take at least 100 years for one to get to 30 feet tall. Still, that’s a feat not many other pine trees can meet. The Japanese umbrella pine is considered a sacred treasure by the Japanese people and is often planted around Buddhist temples.
You Won’t Have to Wake up at 4 AM To Care for These Babies
Orchids are becoming camouflage experts in the plant world as this is yet another orchid to make our list of strangest plants. Grown in the Andes region of South America, these blooms like tiny infants being swaddled in layers of blankets; sounds cute but it looks odd in the picture. Wouldn’t you agree? What’s even stranger is that the flowers smell somewhat like cinnamon when they’re in full bloom. Although that is probably quite tempting, these weird plant species are a little creepy.
Nothing is creepier than having a doll just stare at you all day and all night long. Well, you won’t find any solace with this plant either, as the white berries somewhat resemble doll’s eyes. These “eyes” don’t blink either.
This plant is also called white baneberry and can grow to at least two feet tall. Despite the somewhat adorable name, there is nothing cute about this plant. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous.
Yes, more eyes, faces, and odd features about some of the strangest plants in the world. Yet another orchid to this list is the monkey face orchid, and there’s nothing more to explain here. The inside of the orchid resembles the face of a monkey. It emits a scent that is strangely similar to oranges and can bloom during any season. Maybe our eyes are just seeing what they want to see, and there’s a better reason this flower chooses to make its flower look like the face of a simian.
This plant might be attractive if you like the darker colors. However, it is yet another flower that smells like death. It is the dead horse arum lily. It sprouts strangely out of the ground, with a large flower at the end of a single stalk. It smells exactly like rotting meat to draw insects into its petals and take its pollen. What makes this plant even more unique is that it is thermogenic, meaning that it can produce its heat even in the middle of a cold night.
Nicknamed the jellyfish tree, it’s easy to see how it got that moniker. The fruit it produces, when broken open, looks exactly like a tiny jellyfish. It’s sporadic to find one of these plants, and scientists believed it was extinct. Thankfully, it was rediscovered in the 1970s, but there aren’t very many of them left in the wild. These orange plants are quite nice to look at compared to some others. The fruit might even taste good, if you ever got to try some since they are so rare to find.
This species is more of a fungus than an actual plant but worked its way onto this list from its strange appearance. It has a lumpy white appearance, and excretes a reddish liquid, making it look like a bleeding tooth. It can be a startling find in the forests of the United States, Europe, and Iran. Don’t let the red juices fool you: it is not sweet, nor is it edible. The majority of mushrooms growing in the wild should be left alone, as they can be very toxic when ingested.
There are even stranger plants out there that we didn’t get to cover, making this article exceptionally long. Nevertheless, enjoy learning about a bunch of strange plant species; these stand out from the rest of the flora population of this planet. Some of these plants are downright dangerous and should be avoided because of how toxic they are, but most of them are harmless but should still be enjoyed from a distance. Many of these plants are also endangered, so conservation efforts have been made to perpetuate their species.