5 of the Most Unusual Flowers on Planet Earth
Plant life is a continuous source of human intrigue. Though we often find solace in a beautiful garden stocked with hydrangeas and roses, enjoying the amalgamation of gorgeous blooming flowers and pleasant aromas, many plants are in fact peculiar, stinky and bizarre. Interestingly enough, while some of our favorite garden flowers thrive by providing colorful, showy blooms and scents insects and humans find appealing, other flowers rely on being malodorous and unattractive. Here are five remarkably unusual flowers:
1. The Corpse Lily: This flower gets its name from the foul aroma it emits, which many claim resembles the smell of a stinking corpse. The plant projects this odor to attract flies and beetles that carry pollen from one lily to another. Scientifically named Rafflesia arnoldii, this plant has the largest individual flower on Earth, with five gigantic red petals surrounding a large opening at the center. These flowers can be up to 3 feet in diameter. They are indigenous to rainforests and live exclusively on host vines. Sadly, due to deforestation, the Corpse Lily has become endangered.
2. Hydnora Africana: Remember that scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo almost get thrown into the mouth of that giant plant creature in the sand dunes? Well, Hydnora Africana kind of looks like a smaller version of that beast. This parasitic plant is native to the deserts of South Africa, and in a similar way to the corpse lily, uses an unpleasant, pungent smell to attract carrion beetles. The beetles can easily enter the mouth of the plant but struggle to find their way out. This insures beetles have enough time to pick up or deposit pollen.
3. The Black Bat Flower: This plant originates from Southeast Asia and has unique flowers that resemble bat wings. Violet to black whiskers protrude outward and can grow to around 28 inches in length. Finding and purchasing a black bat flower can be challenging, but they are sometimes sold around Halloween as a novelty gardening item. This flower grows well in shade, which adds to its bat-like reputation.
4. The Titan Arum: Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the titan arum, can grow over 8 feet tall and weigh over 100 pounds. Despite its enormous stature, it is technically composed of many smaller flowers, which is why the corpse flower wins the battle for world's largest flower. People are known to wear protective nose masks when viewing this flower, as legend says the stench is powerful enough to make humans faint on the spot. This plant can take up to six years to reach full bloom.
5. Snake's Head Fritillary: This wildflower has a beautiful bell-shaped bloom with petals that look like snakeskin. They are rarely found in their natural habitat and are protected in the wild. Despite being hard to find, these plants are a great addition to a home garden. Snake's head bulbs bloom at the beginning of spring and serve as a dazzling harbinger for the coming months of summer.