It’s Halloween week here on That Biologist!!! This post is going to be all about the heeby jeebie plants! Plants are so weird and wonderful and I often write about them in the poisons collection. So I shall steer clear of the poisonous plants and stick to ones that deserve a place in a horror film! Here are Ten! of my favourites.
Otherwise known as the round-leaved sundew or common sundew. A carnivorous plant that does look quite pretty at first glance. This particular plant has shining little globules of mucus that attract insects to it. The insects then get stuck and enzymes dissolve the insect into a gloopy mess. The plant is found in bogs and its carnivorous ways were developed so it could get enough nutrients that are lacking in bogs and marshes. Although the plant doesn’t grow bigger than 25 centimetres the idea of it growing big enough for a human to get stuck on it is enough to make a decent horror film!
Number 9: Dragons Blood Tree – Dracaena Cinnabari
This tree looks relatively harmless. It grows and is distinctive of the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. It’s an evergreen tree that flowers in February. The thing that makes this plant special and unusual is that when you cut into the tree there is a red resin within the tree. The resin is known as dragons blood and is steeped in mythology. Its been used as a dye and even as toothpaste in the 18th century. It could definitely feature in some sort of paranormal activity film! Red dragons blood and demons sound like a creepy yet perfect mix.
Number 8: Corpse Flower – Amorphophallus Titanum
This plant is rather well known for two reasons. Firstly because it has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world and the second is because of its smell. Each individual plant only blooms once every seven to ten years. The flower is massive but the smell it produces is said to smell like rotting fish or in fact a corpse. The odour it produces is to encourage pollinates like flies and beetles. I think what makes it most creepy is the black colouring of the plant.
The fact that another name for this is the fingered citron is creepy enough let alone looking at a picture of this. However apart from being a very creepy looking fruit it’s fairly harmless. It’s a citrus fruit that is used in China and Japan. It originates from the far east and is used in some buddhist traditions. To me it reminds me of the creepy guy in Pans labyrinth with eyes in his hands and therefore deserved a place on this list.
Number 6: Gympie Gympie Tree – Dendrocnide Excelsa
Most people have come across the stining nettle whilst on walks and felt that tingling sensation. Imagine that but in a tree form. This tree lives in australia and has such tiny silicone hair like fibres that may need to be waxed out to get rid of them. The sting from this tree can last from hours to months.
This plant is another carnivorous plant. Pitcher plants work by having a pitcher for bugs to fly in to. Then a lid closes on top of them and they fly into an acidic liquid where the nutrients are absorbed by the plant. The real scary part about these guys is that the pitchers can become so big that even small mammals can get swallowed up. Who knows what could get stuck in there?
Number 4: Red Tide
Although its not one particular plant and in fact an algal bloom, I felt it deserved a place on this list. The red tide is caused by a rapid increase in the algae present and toxins being released. It may also cause a depletion in oxygen. The red tides have been known to cause the deaths of many marine creatures including manatees. These have been blamed on a microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. Either way the orangey red waters look like something from jaws!
Number 3: Dolls Eyes – Actaea Pachypoda
Dolls eyes is a flowering plant from north america. It comes from the same flowering plant family as more cute things like buttercup and when its merely growing you wouldn’t take a second look. On the other hand when it bears fruit things get really creepy. The fruit does look like dolls eyes as you can see from the picture. Its dangeroud too with the plant and fruit containing cardiogenic toxins which have a sed ative effect on heart muscle.
Number 2: Bleeding Tooth Fungus – Hydnellum Peckii
Yup this one is seriously gross. Its a fungus found in north america and europe. The fruiting bodies when moist (oh this bit is digusting to write) it releases this blood red liquid. Although its not toxic it is inedible in case you fancied a nible on this. That is all I’m going to say about this and just move on, your own imagination can run with this bad boy.
Number 1:Venus Flytrap – Dionaea Muscipula
The place of number 1 goes to the classic carnivorous plant, the venus flytrap. The video below shows there true power, beware it is kind of gross. They use fast acting moving parts to trap there prey, then enzymes are used to destroy it and absorb the nutrients. Again they are found in areas of low nutrients like bogs. They are actually stated as vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Either way they definitely deserve a place on this list.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, tomorrow its all about werewolves!
Happy Halloween Biologists!