Weird Plant Material
By MG Calla Victoria
I love all flora and fauna but I am especially captivated by the unusual gifts of nature. One such specimen is the one featured above, is it not fabulous? It is the Titan arumor "Corpse Flower" which has the largest non-branched inflorescence, which is the scientific way of saying they have big bodacious flowers! It is called the "Corpse flower" because when in bloom it smells like decomp (a dead body), so it stinks to high heavens! I love God's sense of humor, yes it is the biggest, most fabulous, funkiest bloom around. Whenever I see a photo of this magnificent flower I really want to add it to my garden, but then I ask myself if I am willing to deal with the smell. No thanks, I'll just admire it from afar. Corps flowers are indigenous to the equatorial rain forests of Sumatra and Indonesia. The plant was first discovered by an Italian botanist in 1878, and the first bloom of the species occurred in cultivation in 1889. This strange plant only produces a flower every four to six years, and botanical gardens lucky enough to have this wonderful flower make a big celebration and invite the press and public for the spectacular sight. Hail to the Titan arum, the world's biggest and worst smelling flower!
Sea Poison Tree
Another unique but beautiful plant is the Sea Poison Tree (Barringtonia asiatica), a species endemic to mangrove habitats on the tropical coasts and islands of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean like the Philippines, Fuji, and Taiwan. The blooms are wonderfully strange resembling some kind of sea creature and the blooms open after dark. It was known as Fish Poison Tree or Box fruit due to the distinct boxed-like shaped fruit it produces that can be found floating in the water.
Then there is a species of Rafflesia, know to the Bagobo tribe as Bo-o, a red weird looking pod. This parasitic plant has the largest flower among the Rafflesia species found in the Philippines, with a diameter of up to 80 cm. Among all other Rafflesia species, it has the second largest flower. Its first specimen was collected in 1882 and it was not seen for a century and was thought to be extinct, it was rediscovered in 1994 on Mount Matutum, South Catabato.
Black Bat Plant
While visiting the Conservatory at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, as I rounded a corner I was accosted by the Tacca chantrieri "Black Bat Plant." It scared me a bit as it peeked out under some foliage. The incredible, yet stunning looking bat plant is so unusual in shape and design that it almost looks unreal. Growing wild in the tropical forests of the Yunnan Province of China, this gothic plant can reach heights of 36 inches. It grows best in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and although it appears highly exotic, this beautiful plant is in fact hardy down to -3 degrees Celsius.
Although not a plant, I could not help including this sweet little insect, the Orchid Mantis or Hymenopus coronatus in this article. This creature, also known as the 'walking flower," is a beautiful pink and white mantis with lobes on its legs that look like flower petals. Although this species does not live on orchids, it does look remarkably like the flower of an orchid, hence the name Orchid Mantis. This insect is very popular and loved because of its beautiful bright colors and amazing camouflage. In the wild the Hymenopus coronatus is found in Malaysia.
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Remember never be too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!