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Politics getting on your nerves? Come into the Secret Garden and relax among some of nature's strangest plants.

~Click on photos for full size ~

The smallest flower known to man is Wolffia angusta. This edible aquatic plant commonly known as watermeal has no roots, blossoming from an indentation on the plant body. Like soybean, wolffia is about 40% protein.

wolffia angusta.jpg wolffia2.jpg

The largest single bloom is found on Rafflesia arnoldii, or parasite plant/corpse flower. This is an absolutely fascinating plant, anyone interested in botany should read this short link. Rafflesia is an endangered species found only in Southeast Asia.

rafflesia arnoldii.jpg

To put it in perspective ~


Drakaea glyptodon, aka King-in-his-carriage, is another endangered genus. This orchid, found in Australia, ensures its propagation by deception.

drakaea glyptodon2.jpg

No wonder the wasp is fooled ~


Wollemia nobilis has been called "the botanical find of the century"!

From Wiki - The discovery, on or about 10 September 1994, by David Noble, a field officer of the Wollemi National Park in Wentworth Falls, in the Blue Mountains, only occurred because of his adventurous bushwalking and rock climbing abilities. Noble had good botanical knowledge, and quickly recognised the trees as unusual and worthy of further investigation. Returning with specimens, and expecting someone to be able to identify the plants, Noble soon found that they were new to science.


So where did these few, isolated Wollemi pines come from? The fossil record contains no Wollemi pines. The closest match yet found is between Wollemi pollen and the fossilized pollen Dilwynites, the last known occurrence of which is in sediment layers "dated" at two million years old. From then on, the record is silent. It was thus assumed the genus to which this pollen belonged had become extinct. However, the discovery of the living, apparently related Wollemi pines makes them a living fossil.


Fewer than a hundred trees are known to be growing wild, in three sites not far apart. It is very difficult to count them as most trees are multistemmed and may have a connected root system. Genetic testing has revealed that all the specimens are genetically indistinguishable, suggesting that the species has been through a genetic bottleneck in which its population became so low (possibly just one or two individuals) that all genetic variability was lost.

Short slide show. You'll need java script.

Video of male cones.

Hydnora africana is a parasitic plant which attaches itself to euphorbia roots below ground. Before the flower has opened, it resembles a fungus like an elongated truffle, hence its name Hydnora (after the fungal genus Hydnum).

To attract pollinators such as carrion beetles, it emits an unpleasant rotting-flesh odor. As the plant is often hidden within the host bush, it would be difficult to find but for the horrible smell. Unperturbed, jackal and baboon eat the fruit that develops from the flowers as do the Khoi-San people, from which it derives its local name: Bushman's salad. gaa.png

hydnora.jpg hydnora2.jpg hydnora africana.jpg

Dracunculus vulgaris is known variously as the Dragon Arum, the Black Arum, the Voodoo Lily, the Snake Lily, the Stink Lily, the Black Dragon, Dragonwort, and Ragons. In Greece, part of its native range, the plant is called Drakondia, the long spadex (spike) being viewed as a small dragon hiding in the spathe (bract, or leaf).

dracunculus.jpg grey line.jpg
"I hate flowers. I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."
-Georgia O'Keeffe
blues mad.gif

The corpse flower, or Amorphophallus titanium, is a member of the arum family and usually takes 8-10 years from seed to flower. The two main structures are the spadix (that looks like a phallus) and the spathe. Actually the flowers are deep inside the spathe and attached to the spadix. Pollination is difficult as female flowers develop before the male flowers pollen is ready for cross-pollination.

This one weighs between forty and fifty pounds and only ten have ever flowered before in the United States.


A neat video of this plant blooming at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I just loved this picture so I had to include it ~

amorphophallus titanium.jpg

Last but certainly not least is a plant considered to be the oldest in the world, Welwitschia mirabilis. This is a bizarre species of dioecious (male and female reproductive organs are carried on separate individual plants of the same species) gymnosperm (plants whose seeds are not enclosed by a ripened ovary or fruit) native to the Namibian desert. In nature, the two strap-like leaves will reach up to 6-8 feet in length (and eventually longer) and up to 3 feet wide. The two leaves arise from a short woody stem and continue to grow throughout the plants lifetime, which may be centuries long. Leaves will split lengthwise into many segments.

The first picture makes it look like a mess but it's actually quite beautiful!
welwitschia nobilis.jpg welwitschia2.jpg welwitschia4.jpg

I was excited to find this video which gives you a good idea of the actual size as well as some interesting facts about this plant (well, except for the insect part, you can fast forward that).

Posted by floranista on Oct 24, 2008 2:12 am

12 comments, latest by Rahul at 2:20 pm 4/3

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