10 Positively Peculiar Plants

15 May 2011

The Buddha's Hand
The Buddha’s Hand fruit looks, to all intents and purposes, as if it could have been grown in a certain town called Springfield.  As well as a three eyed fish, it would come as no surprise to see the Simpson siblings discover this peculiar fruit, grown as a result of contamination from Mr Burns’ nuclear power plant.  However, this fruit is for real.

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The Rainbow Rose
These are not artificial roses! The Rainbow Rose is now available in the UK for the first time and although you may think that these weird and wonderful blooms are painted or artificial they are one hundred percent natural. Almost. Well, ninety nine percent. Well, OK, they have been messed with, but not, as you may expect, on a genetic level.

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The Platycerium
Platycerium – even the name sounds odd.  Mostly referred to as Staghorn or Elkhorn ferns, this genus of fern is, to say the very least, unusual looking.  Yet they are fascinating to look at because their fronds are something else, quite unique.  To look at a platycerium is to look back in time millions of years.

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Jabuticaba
No, this is not a belated April Fool’s prank. They look as if they may have been pinned there by an over enthusiastic gardener to impress the neighbors but the fruit of the Jabuticaba really does grow off the trunk of the tree. Otherwise known as the Brazilian Grape Tree, this plant is native to South America, notably Paraguay, Argentina and (obviously from its name) mostly from Brazil.  The fruit, a succulent looking purple color can be plucked and eaten straight from the tree.

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Drosera
Look closely, but be wary of touching.  Those beautiful glistening drops of dew at the end of these plants are not quite what they seem.  In fact, rather than being dew, that jewel of the earth, these gleaming globules are in fact mucilage. Muci-what? The leaves of the drosera, the largest genera of carnivorous plants with over 194 species in its family, are studded with mucilage with dinner in mind.  Once an insect alights upon this gummy substance it cannot break free.

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Rainbow Eucalytptus
It looks like it may have been used as part of a new advertising campaign by a paint company. However the Rainbow Eucalyptus (or Eucalyptus deglupta to give it its Latin name) comes in many of the colors of the rainbow. Even stranger, for a tree not widely seen or known, it is the only eucalyptus species that is found in the northern hemisphere – naturally. Its primary use to growers – and here is the shame in a way – is for pulpwood. This magnificently hued tree is used in the manufacture of paper.  White paper.

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Yareta
There is something green and alien looking, growing in South America.  On first inspection you might think that it is some extraterrestrial species, using the remote grasslands of the continent to establish a foothold on planet Earth. Yet however alien this looks, this green mass of cells has its origins very much on this world.  This is Yareta.

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Mycotroph
They lack chlorophyll and do not photosynthesize but the mycotroph family of plants manages to somehow survive.  They may look like a something from another planet but they are very much of this earth. This is the somewhat spooky looking Ghost Plant.  The lack of chlorophyll in the plant means that like the snowplant it gets its photosynthates from the fungus in the ground below it.  For a long time scientists thought that it lived off dead and decaying matter, but that turned out to be not the case.

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Cannonball Tree
It is the case with a number of plants that they are given popular names which reflect how they look or what they do.  So it is with the Cannonball Tree whose fruit is so large that they look like cannonballs.  Not only that, when they fall to the ground a large noise is created similar to... you guessed it.


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Titty Fruit
Sometimes you really do give the name of a plant a quick double take just to see if you had read it correctly.  Solanum mammosum, to give the Latin name to this strange fruit, is one of those.  It has a variety of names in the English language – but the best by a long chalk is the Titty Fruit. Bizarrely enough what you are looking at is a relative of the potato and the tomato.

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