Offbeat

Some Weird Plants You Probably Shouldn’t Tell Anyone About

While weird may be a relative word, there are some instances where its application is unmistakable. For example, just as it would be a bit difficult to be a little bit pregnant, it would be equally hard to deny that the following plant oddities created by the vagaries of an obviously annoyed Mother Nature are anything less than “a little bit weird.”

Consider the Rafflesia arnoldii as indicated in the picture below with the smiling young man (It’s the one on the left). A foul-smelling, flesh-colored parasitic plant, its bloom is considered the world’s largest and can grow more than three feet across. Oddly, this plant has no leaves, stems or roots and the spots on its flesh conjure images of teen-age hormones and acne running amuck. It also has a hole in its center that can retain six or seven quarts of water. What purpose that serves is anyone’s guess.

The Hydnora Africana hails from South Africa. This unusual parasitic plant grows underground except for the flesh-colored flower that is above ground and emits an odor of feces in order to attract its natural pollinators, which are dung and carrion beetles. The flower traps the beetles that enter and then releases them after the flower has opened.

There are some plant names that speak for themselves. Such is the case with Amorphophallus, which literally means, “shapeless male genitalia.”

The Wollemia nobilis could literally be that creature from the black lagoon of classic horror movie fame. Before 1994, this alien looking tree was only known via 120 million-year-old fossil leaves. They are rare (thankfully so) as there are fewer than one hundred of them that exist in the wild. The bark on their multiple trunks looks like bubbles of chocolate and their leaves which resemble ferns, grow in a spiral fashion. They can grow up to 125 feet tall.

Last but not least in this makeshift study is the Welwitschia mirabilis. Hailing from Namibia in southern Africa and considered a relic from the Jurassic period, this plant begins its weird life with only two leaves and a rooted stem. The leaves grow until they resemble something unearthly and the stem, instead of growing higher, grows thicker. A healthy one of these can grow to be almost six feet high and twenty-four feet wide. Not only that, its life span is estimated to fall between 400 to 1500 years.

Now that you know about these plants… be safe, stay away.

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