All plants are interesting in their own special way, but the following strange and unusual plants make us appreciate the wonders of nature a little bit more.
The Desert Onion (Welwitschia mirabilis)
While it may not be the most beautiful plant to look at, this strong and sturdy stem with roots is the most resistant plant in existence. It is native to the country of Namibia and there is truly nothing else like it in the world. The Welwitschia Plant has two leaves, a stem and roots. The two leaves continue to grow until they look like a long shaggy mane. As the stem of the plant grows, it gets thicker instead of growing in height. It can grow to be 2 meters high and 8 meters wide. Their estimated lifespan is 400 to 1,500 years. It can thrive for up to five years without water and the plant is said to be very tasty eaten raw or baked in hot ashes. This is how it got its alternate name Onyanga, which means onion of the desert.
The Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)
This popular plant is well known for its carnivorous appetite and has appeared in a number of sci-fi movies. An actual Venus Fly Trap is very beautiful to look at but it is also threatened. The two hinged leaves of the plant are covered in very sensitive fine hairs that can detect the presence of all types of insects flying around. Once the hair has been triggered, they snap together and trap its prey shut in less than a second.
The Corpse Plant (Rafflesia arnoldii)
Known as the world’s largest flower, this exotic and rare plant is one that you may not want to have growing in your garden. While it is very interesting, it isn’t the most beautiful plant in the world. With its rust-colored petals, the Rafflesia arnoldii is part of the Euphorbiaceae family. It grows to be 3 feet across and weighs an astonishing 15 to 24 lbs. Another reason why you would not want this flower growing in your garden is that it gives off a highly offensive odor when it is in bloom. The scent is very similar to rotting meat, which is why the natives of Indonesia where the flower is found have named it The Corpse Plant. The flower only blooms for three days to a week at the most. But within that time frame you will want to keep your distance. The smell it produces attracts pollinating insects to the area which help to populate the species. Even when this occurs, only 10 to 20 percent of small seedlings survive. Those that do should start to bloom within 9 months.
The Dancing Plant (Descodium gyrans)
This plant has amazed scientists and botonists for centuries. Darwin referred to it as the Hedysarum while modern botanists call it either Desmodium Gyrans or Codariocalyx Motorius. The common names for this plant include the Dancing Plant, Telegraph Plant or the Semaphore Plant, because of the strange leaf movements which resemble semaphore signals. This plant is very easy to grow and it dances in a sunny windowsill as long as you keep it watered. Many owners say that it dances best to the Grateful Dead.
The Baseball Plant (Euphorbia obesa)
Known as the Baseball Plant this species is native to the Great Karoo area of South Africa. Plant collectors value the Baseball Plant for its unique appearance and they have severely impacting the natural wild population of this plant. National and International legislations have been enacted to help protect the Baseball Plant. While it may remain endangered in its native lands, it has become very popular in cultivation. This allows plant collectors to enjoy the natural beauty of this species without taking it from the wild.
The Dragon Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari)
This tree is native to the Socotra archipelago region. Also referred to as the Socotra Dragon Tree it is one of the most striking of all of Socotra’s plant life. It has a strange looking umbrella top and was first formally described by Isaac Bayley Balfour in 1882. A miniature figure of this tree is in Windows as a Network Icon. Its red sap was the dragon’s blood of the ancient’s and was often sought after for use as a medicine or as dye.
The Resurrection Plant (Selaginella lepidophylla)
Also commonly known as the Rose of Jericho, this desert plant species is known for its ability to survive almost complete destruction during dry weather in its native habitat. The stems curl into a tight ball and uncurl when the plant is exposed to moisture. It is native to the Chihuahuan Desert.