The Earth is a green planet, filled with many different species of plants. Plants live in virtually every environment, from the Arctic to the oceans, and we pass by thousands of different types every day. While many of these plants seem perfectly ordinary to us, there are also many species that are truly bizarre and strange.
While some of these plants live in far-off parts of the world, others can be seen surprisingly close to home. You may also be able to see specimens at a conservatory or a garden center. These plants truly demonstrate the diversity of God’s creation.
1. The Skunk Cabbage
Have you ever been taking a hike and been sure that you smelled a skunk? What you smelled may actually have been a skunk cabbage, which is a North American plant that grows in swamps and other wet areas. The plant has huge flowers that are purple or yellow in color, and it looks like something from outer space.
Parts of the plant are edible and were used for food by Native Americans. However, other parts, such as the flowerheads, contain a deadly poison called calcium oxalate. This corrosive toxin can cause severe injury or even death.
2. The Giant Hogweed
This invasive weed is spreading through many parts of the United States and poses a real danger to people. The sap exuded by the hogweed can cause a dangerous reaction when it is exposed to sunlight. Getting some sap on your skin can cause lesions and burns as soon as you go out in the sun. These wounds can sometimes take years to heal!
3. The Corpse Flower
Titan arum, known as the “corpse flower,” is not actually a single flower, but is a stalk made of many tiny flowers. It can grow up to a height of 10 to 15 feet and blooms only once every 7 years. When the flower blooms, it produces an intense smell that resembles the odor of rotting flesh, which gives it its name. The flowers are the largest in the world.
4. The Rafflesias Flower
This is another flower that is legendary for its intense odor. The Rafflesias grows in the jungles of Southeast Asia and can reach a size of as much as 4 feet in diameter. Unlike the “corpse flower,” these plants are parasitic and lives off the nutrients that it absorbs from other plants.
The odor produced by the flower is intended to attract carrion beetles. These beetles come to the flower and pollinate it, just as bees pollinate many other species of plants.
5. The Bristlecone Pine
The bristlecone pine tree grows in the arid conditions of the American West. Some of these trees are the oldest living organisms on Earth. The age of one tree has been calculated at more than 5000 years!
Bristlecone pines can tolerate soil conditions that very few other plants can live in. This means that they are capable of thriving in areas that are often quite barren and lifeless. They can grow in alkaline soils, and they are also quite tolerant to wind, cold, and aridity. Because of the poor conditions in these areas, they tend to grow very slowly.
As you can see, the world is filled with bizarre and unusual plants. Even in your own backyard, there may be plants growing that are a lot stranger than you might think. These 5 species are just a small sample of the many strange plants in the world. The next time you go outside, pay attention to the plants you pass by. You never know what you might see!