There are literally hundreds of millions of different plants all over the world, that grow in different temperatures, biomes and environments. Some of these plants bear interesting fruit while others actually consume animals.
Welwitschia Mirabilis: World’s Most Resistant Plant
It’s not pretty to look at, but Namibia’s plant Welwitschia Mirabilis can truly claim to be one of a kind. There really is nothing like it. Welwitschia plant consists of only two leaves and a sturdy stem with roots. That’s all! Two leaves continue to grow until they resemble the shaggy mane of some sci-fi alien. The stem thickens, rather than gains in height, and can grow to be almost 2 meters high and 8 meters wide. Their estimated lifespan is 400 to 1500 years. It can survive up to five years with no rain. The plant is said to be very tasty either raw or baked in hot ashes, and this is how it got its other name, Onyanga, which means onion of the desert.
Dionaea Muscipula: The Venus Fly Trap
The Venus Fly Trap is the most famous of all carnivorous plants due to the active and efficient nature of its unique traps. It may be famous, but it’s also threatened. The plant’s two hinged leaves are covered in ultra sensitive fine hairs that detect the presence of everything from ants to arachnids. Trigger the hairs and snap! The trap will shut in less than a second.
Rafflesia Arnoldii: World’s Largest Flower
There is one exotic and rare plant you wouldn’t likely want to grow anywhere near your landscape no matter how famous it would make you for doing so. That would be growing the largest flower in the world. This exotic, very rare, speckled, though not particularly pretty, rust colored flower is called Rafflesia Arnoldii. Rafflesia Arnoldii, recently assigned to the Euphorbiaceae family, is the biggest individually produced flower in the world. It gets to be 3 feet across and weighing a whopping 15- 24 pounds. That’s pretty darn big but still you would not like this flower in your perennial bed. Why is that? If you could mimic a rainforest type environment for this plant, it gives off a most offensive odor when in bloom. This scent is somewhat like rotting meat. This is why it is often called the Corpse Plant by some natives of Indonesia where it originates. Its blossoms only last three days to a week. But in those few days it needs a miracle or two just for survival. This hideous smell it produces attracts pollinating insects to it to help perpetuate the species. But even when this happens only 10-20 percent of the tiny seedlings make it. With any luck in nine months it blooms.
Desmodium Gyrans: The Dancing Plant
Darwin called the plant Hedysarum; modern botanists call it either Desmodium Gyrans, or more correctly these days, Codariocalyx Motorius. Its common name is Dancing Grass or Telegraph Plant or Semaphore Plant — after the leaf movements, which resemble semaphore signals. For all of its uses this plant is easy to grow, dancing happily on a sunny windowsill and watered when dry. Some say it dances best to the “Greatful Dead!”
Amorphophallus Titanum: The Corpse Flower
A flower taller than a man, stinking strongly of putrefying roadkill and colored deep burgundy to mimic rotting flesh, sounds like something from a low-budget science fiction movie. But Indonesia’s titan arum—or “corpse flower,” as known by locals—is a real, if rare, phenomenon, pollinated in the wild by carrion-seeking insects. This Indonesian plant, called titan arum or amorphophallus titanium, has the world’s biggest inflorescence. Due to its fragrance, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the Titan Arum is also known as a carrion flower, the “Corpse flower”, or “Corpse plant”.
Dracaena Cinnabari: The Dragon Blood Tree
Dracaena Cinnabari is a Dragon Tree native to the Socotra archipelago. It is also referred to as the Dragon Blood Tree and Socotra Dragon Tree. It is one of the most striking of Socotra’s plants, a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. It was first formally described by Isaac Bayley Balfour in 1882. A miniature Icon of this tree is in Windows as Network-Icon. Its red sap was the dragon’s blood of the ancients, sought after as a medicine and a dye.
Selaginella Lepidophylla: The Resurrection Plant
Also known as Rose of Jericho, the Selaginella Lepidophylla is a species of desert plant noted for its ability to survive almost complete desiccation; during dry weather in its native habitat, its stems curl into a tight ball and uncurl when exposed to moisture. It is native to the Chihuahuan Desert.
Urtica Ferox: New Zealand Tree Nettle
The New Zealand Tree Nettle is one of only two plants in the world that has killed a human just by the unfortunate act of walking into it. The monster plant is an enormous and super toxic tree version of the common stinging nettle, and may grow up to 15 feet tall. The well camouflaged plant is armed with unusually large needles that deliver a potentially lethal and also corrosive neurotoxin upon the slightest contact. Great caution when hiking is critical to preventing deaths. In one tragic documented case, a New Zealand Hunter was killed after brushing one of these terror nettles, causing nervous system shutdown through the acute venom effects. If death does not occur right away, potentially deadly polyneuropathy, a degenerative breakdown of nervous system pathways may occur over time.
Dendrocnide Moroides: The Gympie Gympie Tree
The Australian Gympie-Gympie tree distinguishes itself as the world’s most dangerous tree, and the most painful of all stinging plants trees. The Gympie-Gympie’s excruciating pain has been described as being sprayed with hot acid, and has driven those affected to suicide. In one disturbing case, a man shot himself after mistakenly using the leaf as toilet paper in the bush. The terrifying tree contains one of the most persistent toxins known to man, and burning sensations may continue up to two years after being stung. This may be due to poison retention inside the venomous needles injected upon contact. One researcher discovered that the poison remains viable for up to 20 years. Anaphylactic shock may be induced in even healthy persons, leading Australian forestry departments to issue hazmat grade suits to bush workers in affected areas.
Rubus Armeniacus: Himalayan Blackberry
Himalayan Blackberry is one plant you don’t want to tangle with—literally. A briar on steroids, one plant can cover half an acre with treacherous slashers. Unlike normal blackberries, each stalk measures up to 2 inches across, and is covered with inch long thorns that extend like sharks teeth. While brambles might give you a scratch, an encounter with Himalayan Blackberries may warrant a visit to the emergency room. Slashes from even casual stumbles into the innocent looking plants may result in serious eye injuries and blood loss from damaged veins and arteries. Many accidents result when hikers trip in a gully infested with the hazardous spikes. Extreme protective wear including shatter proof safety goggles are favored by hazard management crews. The spiked canes are placed under tension as they tangle together, and upon disturbance, may fly back, acting as a mace capable of slashing eyes.
Brugmansia: Angel Trumpet
The spectacular Angel Trumpet vine is native to the forests of South America, and delivers a dark triad of potent toxins—atropine, hyoscyamine, and the mind altering scopolamine. Unlike the other plants on this list, Angel Trumpet is less dangerous in of itself, than as a biological weapon in the hands of humans. In 2007, Angel Trumpet was featured in the documentary “Colombian Devil’s Breath,” for its use by criminal gang members who refined scopolamine from the ethereal looking weed and used it to turn victims into zombies – literally. This “hypnotizing herb” leaves its victims unaware of the nature of their actions, but still completely conscious. The documentary contained numerous horror stories of scopolamine attacks, including one eerie case where a man had scopolamine powder thrown in his face, and promptly emptied his entire apartment into the van of the robbers. Voluntary experimenters have seriously injured themselves in their psychotic state.
Symplocarpus Foetidus: Skunk Cabbage
Skunk Cabbage is a huge, foul smelling North American member of the Aurum family. Native to swamps, the odor of the plant is often mistaken for an irate skunk until the huge golden or purplish flowers are seen emerging from the leaves. The appearance of the plant is like an alien artifact. Although certain parts of the Skunk Cabbage were found to be edible by Native Americans, it should be known that death from severe calcium oxalate poisoning may result from consuming the wrong parts in excessive quantities. The calcium oxalate is an extremely corrosive toxin that burns into the flesh, and may shut down organ systems. The author misunderstood a gardening book and tried a flowerhead. The result was extreme burning of the mouth and throat, serious illness for several hours, and two days of difficult swallowing.
Heliamphora chimantensis: Marsh Pitcher Plant
Heliamphora chimantensis which grows in Venezuela is a carnivorous plant that traps its prey, mostly insects, in the roll of its leaves. Once the prey has been trapped it is digested in a pool of bacteria. The plant absorbs nutrients from the decaying insects.
Drosera Capensis: Cape Sundew
The Drosera capensis is one of the more delicate looking plants on the list. However, as this pretty plant proves, looks can be deceiving. This native to South Africa traps its prey by a secreting a sticky substance on its leaves. Once its prey is stuck, the long tentacle like leaf folds over to consume it.
Mimosa Pudica: Shame Plant
The Mimosa pudica of Brazil not only produces unusual flowers but also unusual movements. Known as the Sensitive Plant, the mimosa pudica leaves will close and droop when they are touched. It displays the same behavior when it is shaken or dehydrated.
*BONUS* Fruit Salad Tree
The fruit salad tree was developed in the early 1990’a by the West family. These trees come in multiple varieties and bear multiple fruits on the same tree.