1. The Doll's Eyes
• This plant is extremely poisonous and can cause humans to go into cardiac arrest.
• Very small amounts of tea brewed from roots used to relieve childbirth pains and PMS as well as headaches, colds, and coughs.
• The plant is harmless to birds.
The Doll's Eye (Actaea pachypoda), found in mature forests ranging from southern Canada to Georgia and west to Minnesota, is extremely poisonous for humans. The berries contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative affect on human cardiac muscle tissue, and are the most poisonous part of the plant. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The berries are harmless to birds, the plant's primary seed dispersers.
It's most prominent feature is white spherical berries with black dots on the tip, hence the common name, Doll's Eye. The fruits grow from May through October. Very small amounts of tea brewed from roots used to relieve childbirth pains and PMS as well as headaches, colds, and coughs. The Doll's Eye was once thought to benefit the circulatory system. Leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and berries may cause gastrointestinal inflammation and skin blisters. The plant grows to 50 cm or more tall. It has toothed leaves up to 40 cm long and 30 cm broad and it produces a white flower.
2. The bigger the flower, the deadlier the smell
• It is the world's biggest flower, with the flower itself reaching up to 3 meters while the leave stucture can grow up to 6 meters.
• It is the world's worst smelling flower, it smells like a dead corpse. This smell is only transmitted during the pollination phase.
• The plant also transmits heat during the pollination phase.
The "corpse flower," (Amorphophallus titanum) is the world's biggest and worst smelling flower. Native to the Borneo rain forest in Indonesia, the plant blooms only a few times in its 40-year life span. During the first eight hours, the bloom emits a scent similar to rotting eggs or a decaying animal. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the odur volatilize. In its native habitat, this scent attracts the carrion beetles and sweat bees that succeed in pollinating the numerous inconspicuous female flowers clustered in the lower half of the spike.
3. A pest of a flower
• According to the Guiness Book of Records, the largest flower in the world to come from a parasitic plant is the Rafflesia Arnoldii, which measured three feet in diameter, was 3/4 inch thick and weighed fifteen pounds.
• It is a parasitic plant with no leaves, roots or stems.
Rafflesia arnoldii is a parasitic plant that develops the world's largest bloom. It naturally grows in the rain forests of Sumatra and Borneo in the Malay Archipelago. The flower is a fleshy color with spots. It has a hole in the center that holds six or seven quarts of water. The plant has no leaves, stems, or roots and lives as a parasite on the vine it sits on. Rafflesia is usually floor bound.
It also has no chlorophyl, instead it grows threadlike strands of tissue inside its viney host, snitching nutrients and water from the host cells around it. Within a week of first bloom, the flower fades and the plant is once again hidden inside its host. Each flower produces just one seed and this seed can only germinate if it succeeds in lodging itself in the tissue of the vine host known as Tetrastigma, which usually crawls along the rainforest floors. Just like the Corpse flower, it also has an uncanny smell.
4. The upside-down desert plant
• The Hydnora triceps bears its fruit and flowers underground.
• Except for flowering, their whole life is spent below the soil surface.
• Their chamber-like flowers act as temporary traps for beetles that enter, then they get released when the flower is fully opened.
The Hydnoraceae triceps can be found in the Namakwaland and Eastern Cape area of South Africa and in Namibia. What makes the Hydnora triceps so remarkable is that it bears its fruit and flowers underground. It is a parasitic plant with no leave like structures and depends on its host for survival. Not only are Hydnoras rare plants, they're some of the rarest plants on the good side of extinction. Except for flowering, their whole life is spent below the soil surface. The chamber-like flowers act as traps for a brief period retaining the beetles that enter, then releasing them when the flower is fully opened.
5. Masters of disguise
• Lithops is one of only a few species in the world that can be described as a 'camoflague plant'.
• The markings on the top surface disguise the plant in its surroundings.
• They are not green as in almost all plants, but various shades of cream, grey, and brown, patterned with darker windowed areas, dots, and red lines.
"Lithops" means "stone-like"; this is a very good description of these plants, which avoid being eaten by blending in with surrounding rocks. They are often known as pebble plants or living stones. The most startling adaptation of Lithops is the colouring of the leaves. Not green as in almost all higher plants, but various shades of cream, grey, and brown, patterned with darker windowed areas, dots, and red lines. The markings on the top surface disguise the plant in its surroundings.
The plant consists of fused leaves opposite to each other and hardly any stem. Flowers grow through the slit of the plant. The leaves of Lithops are mostly buried below the surface of the soil, with a partially or completely translucent top surface or window allowing light to enter the interior of the leaves for photosynthesis.
Lithops fruit is a dry capsule which open when it becomes wet, some seeds may be ejected by falling raindrops, and the capsule re-closes when it dries out. Capsules may also sometimes detach and be distributed intact, or may disintegrate after several years. New species continue to be discovered steadily in remote regions of Namibia and South Africa.
6. Bat flower returns
• Calles the ,Bat Plant, based on it's appearance
• The plant has whiskers that gets up to 12 inches long, it also has a flowing forked tail.
• Its root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat gastric ulcer, high blood pressure, hepatitis, and burns.
The Tacca chantrierei, Green Isle or Bat Plant is an unusual and rare plant with dusky green blooms and long green tentacles. In Malaya they call it the Devil's Flower and strange, fascinating stories surround it. Originating, no doubt, from the malevolent way the eyes in the bloom seem to be following your every move! It grows to about 2 feet in height with flowers complete with filaments or whiskers 12 inches long forming a flowing forked tail. Its root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat gastric ulcer, high blood pressure, hepatitis, and burns.
7. A blooming mushroom in the desert?
• The "Sand Foot" is a parasitic flowering plan
• It has an underground stem that reaches up to 2 meters.
• The flavor of raw stems is pleasantly sweet, with a texture similar to a crisp, juicy radish.
One of the most interesting of all dune plants, and certainly one of the most bizarre wildflowers in North America is "sand food" (Pholisma sonorae). This amazing parasitic flowering plant grows in the Algodones Dunes of southeastern California and adjacent Arizona, and in the sand dunes of El Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico. Within this area, the plants grow on sand dunes produced by wind transport of sand from the beaches of ancient Lake Cahuilla and the Colorado River delta.
Sand food is a root parasite with a thick, scaly stem that may extend 6 feet (2 m) or more into the dune where it attaches to the roots of nearby shrubs deep in the soft sand. The entire plant lives below the surface of the sand, with only the flower head pushing above sand during early spring. The scaly stem is without chlorophyll and is nonphotosynthetic, and all of its vital organic nutrients (amino acids and carbohydrates) come from nearby host shrubs.
The flavor of raw stems is pleasantly sweet, with a texture similar to a crisp, juicy radish; however, this is a rare desert plant and should not be harvested by hungry nature lovers.
8. The Passion flower
• Some passion flowers bear small colored nubs which resemble butterflies' eggs and seem to fool them into believing that more eggs have already been deposited on a plant than actually is the case
• The fresh or dried leaves of Maypop are used to make an infusion, a tea that is used to treat insomnia, hysteria, and epilepsy, and is also valued for its painkilling properties.
• Many species have been found to contain beta-carboline harmala alkaloids which have anti-depressant properties
• The roots have been used to enhance the effects of mind-altering drugs.
The family Passifloraceae is found worldwide, except in Europe, Antarctica and Africa. The decorative passion flowers have a unique flower structure, which in most requires a large bee to effectively pollinate. Passiflora species are important sources of nectar for many insects. To prevent the butterflies from laying too many eggs on any single plant, some passion flowers bear small colored nubs which resemble the butterflies' eggs and seem to fool them into believing that more eggs have already been deposited on a plant than actually is the case.
Many Passiflora species produce sweet nutrient-rich liquid from glands on their leaf stems. These fluids attract ants which will kill and eat many pests that they happen to find feeding on the passion flowers. The bracts of the Stinking Passion Flower are covered by hairs which exude a sticky fluid. Many small insects get stuck to this and get digested to nutrient-rich goo by proteases and acid phosphatases.
Most species have round or elongated edible fruit from two to eight inches long and an inch to two inches across, depending upon the species or cultivar. The fresh or dried leaves of Maypop are used to make an infusion, a tea that is used to treat insomnia, hysteria, and epilepsy, and is also valued for its painkilling properties. Many species have been found to contain beta-carboline harmala alkaloids which have anti-depressant properties. The flower and fruit has only traces of these chemicals, but the leaves and the roots are often more potent and have been used to enhance the effects of mind-altering drugs. Once dried, the leaves can also be smoked.
9. Tropical Pitcher Plants
Nepenthes, sometimes called Tropical Pitcher Plants, is a carnivorous species found throughout Asia. Animals that crawl inside the plant fall into a watery trap and drown. There's even a pitcher plant in India named Nepenthes Tanax that is known to eat rats.
10. Green Jade Flower
The Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) is a native of the tropical forests of the Phillipines. Its flowers are the color of jade, and hang in bunches up to 90 cm long; each clawlike flower is about 7½ cm long. In its native Philippines, the jade vine's flowers are pollinated by bats.The rare and beautiful green jade flower is distinct for its blue-green petals and navy-purple center. The flowers have such an amazing colour and shape it’s hard to believe they are real. The endangered species is under threat by deforestation in its natural habitat in the Philippines.