Nature gave people an unusual gift – flowers, which mankind will never tire of admiring. Among them there are cute and modest inconspicuous plants, and there are proud and pretentious inflorescences that resemble kings and queens. But there are very unusual representatives in the kingdom of fauna that are able to amaze anyone with their appearance, form or way of existence.
Such flowers attract not only biologists or botanists, but also ordinary tourists who want to see strange creatures of nature in natural conditions. Those who cannot afford such an exciting journey should not be upset, because in order to get acquainted with such plants, it is not necessary to go to distant lands. You can just read about the amazing inflorescences in this article.
As the name suggests, this flower spread from the East. Japan and China are considered the birthplace of culture. The Europeans who first saw the Japanese camellia were amazed by its unusual beauty and grace. The fact is that a tree-like shrub, densely covered with inflorescences in spring or summer, is completely unlike a real plant. Each petal looks so perfect, and the spiral of the inflorescence is twisted so perfectly that it is perceived as the work of human hands. An ordinary traveler, seeing this miracle for the first time, does not even fit in his head that such perfection was created by nature, and not a master who makes jewelry, or a pastry decorator. The impression is complemented by the fact that the petals seem to be waxy, like those of artificial flowers, so there is always a desire to touch the bud to make sure it is natural.
This treasure was first brought to Europe by the monk Kamel. The eastern peoples very zealously guarded the Japanese camellia, since it was considered a symbol of the samurai, and not a single symbol should have left the homeland. The path was dangerous, so the tree was named in honor of this fearless man camellia.
In Europe, a capricious tree did not want to take root, and even more so – to bloom. It took a little over a century to grow the plant in artificial conditions and achieve the unusual flowering, for which camellia is appreciated all over the world. Now the flowering of this shrub can be seen in many famous botanical gardens in the world, where it grows in greenhouses. To see this miracle, tourists adjust the dates of their travels, and when they meet, they take unforgettable photos and take away pleasant memories of the delicate smell that exudes every inflorescence of Japanese camellia.
Any girl is pleased to receive a bouquet from a man during a date. But the situation changes radically when it comes to titanic amorphophallus – the plant with the largest inflorescence on Earth. This is not surprising, since one flower of this species weighs between 10 and 25 kg! Not every man can bring a bouquet of even three of these flowers on a date. The size of the bud is up to 2.5 m in height and 1.5 m in diameter.
But not only for this reason, a bouquet of amorphophallus is unlikely to please a girl. This species combines the title of the largest inflorescence with the title of the most smelly of flowering plants. The smell emanating from amorphophallus resembles rotten fish or rotten eggs, and even intensifies when touched. Insects that seek it to carry pollen like this “fragrance”, but people don’t. It is for this smell that botanists find an unusual look in the jungle to see an unforgettable flowering. This period lasts only two weeks, after which the plant goes into dormancy for almost a year.
You can see the flowering of the titanic amorphophallus not only in the jungle, but also in the botanical gardens.
The species is not considered capricious and taking care of it is not difficult exactly until the moment when a huge bud appears from under the ground. From that moment on, the smell becomes unbearable, especially when you consider that this crop is grown in closed greenhouses. To take care of him during this period, workers in botanical gardens have to work in respirators.
At home, locals, accustomed to the dubious smell, harvest the inflorescences and use them as a seasoning for soups and other dishes. They consider amorphophallus to be an effective means of weight loss, and this is not surprising, since after such a smell the appetite really recedes for a long time.
In the undergrowth of tropical forests, you can find an unusual representative of the Marenov family, which in South and Central America, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama is considered a weed, and for residents of other countries it is exotic, memorable for a lifetime. At the moment of blossoming, the bud of psychotria takes the form of luscious female lips. At home, the culture is called “hot kiss”.
Having met Psychotria Elata in the forest, it is impossible to restrain a smile. Despite the bright color, the blossoming buds are quite difficult to notice, since during the day they hide from prying eyes in the foliage of trees, and only in the evening hours, when the sun goes beyond the horizon, they rise on peduncles above the leaves.
Such an unusual form, of course, is not accidental: it developed during evolution in order to attract pollinators – a variety of butterflies and some members of the hummingbird family, which is very important, since the flowering takes place extremely quickly – over several hours. It is interesting that such “kisses” differ in their shades: in different types they are from light pink to dark burgundy, like the palette of lipsticks from makeup artists.
At the moment, the plant is on the verge of extinction due to the rapid deforestation, but it is becoming more and more popular in the landscape design of hot countries with a humid climate.
Another unusual representative of the fauna, which causes not delight, but rather disgust. African Hydnora is a typical parasite. The harsh conditions of existence in the dry climate of South Africa make it live underground for several seasons, where its root system looks for the roots of other plants. Having groped for them, Gidnora sticks to other people’s roots and sucks moisture out of them.
An unusual flower emerges from the ground after enough rainfall has fallen. After opening, it resembles the head of a snake with its mouth wide open. The ominous impression is only partly deceitful: although the African Hydnor is not dangerous for humans, the acquaintance with this parasite ends in failure for insects. Beetles, flies and moths, arriving at the smell exuded by the hydnor, crawl deep inside, after which they get stuck in the pulp and die there. After that, the parasite processes them and uses them for nutrition.
The local population uses this culture for food, eating not only the pulp, but also the fruits formed after flowering. And shamans and healers use hydnora as a medicinal plant.
“Charming killer” – this is the name of this flower in literature. The multiple dewdrops that cover these flowers make them so cute and defenseless in appearance that it is difficult to believe that sundews are carnivorous predators.
For the first time, these plants were studied in detail by Darwin, who came to an indescribable delight from them. Evolutionary theory demanded proof that the line between the animal and plant world is very conditional and illusory. A more suitable representative for this purpose than the sundew could not be found in the entire kingdom of flora.
Dewdrop demonstrates high sensitivity to touch, moreover, it is able to distinguish the touch of an organic and inorganic body, that is, there will be no reaction to a drop of dew, but after landing on an inflorescence of an insect, the enzymes contained in the droplets on the stamens paralyze the defenseless body. The leaf then quickly wraps itself up, and the insect will no longer be able to get out of the deadly loop. Digestion takes place there, the flower sucks out all the nutrients. Even when growing a sundew at home, it needs insects, no fertilizers can replace the usual type of food for it.
Many representatives of orchids make your heart sink in beauty. But there is a completely unusual representative in this family – the monkey orchis. This rare and endangered species, listed in the Red Book, is quite difficult to find in wildlife, and when grown at home, it shows great moodiness. But all efforts are rewarded during flowering: the shape of the inflorescences is so bizarre that there are no analogues in living nature. The petals are folded in such a way that they form funny little people with heads, legs and arms that hang on the flower-bearing shoot like parachutists.
The funniest part is the small process between the petals in the form of legs, reminiscent of a male genital organ, which is why botanists joke that this is an exclusively male flower. Previously, it was used as part of medicinal preparations to increase potency, but whether this is confirmed by a real therapeutic effect or such an opinion is based only on the bizarre shape of the petals is not known.
Another representative of the plant kingdom that looks extremely amazing is rafflesia. This plant has no stem, no leaves, no vegetative shoots. The roots of this parasite bite into vines, on which it parasitizes all its life. Of all the terrestrial organs, only a huge flower grows in it, reaching 1.5 meters in diameter. It takes a long time to form a bud – from 9 to 18 months.
What makes rafflesia unique is that photosynthesis is not characteristic of it, despite the fact that photosynthesis is the distinctive feature of all vegetation. But the inflorescence, sometimes weighing more than 10 kg, is so noticeable and remarkable that it will not work to pass it by in the tropics. In addition to the unusual shape, attention from afar will be drawn to the unpleasant smell of rotten meat, which is very much appreciated by insects that pollinate rafflesia.
Another amazing feature of this flower is that the inflorescence bowl is a capacious reservoir for collecting water. Sometimes, after rains, about 40 liters of precipitation are stored in it. During drought, rafflesia not only uses this water itself, but can also redirect its excess along the roots to the host plant, which is thus rewarded for its patience and forced suffering.
Under natural conditions, this plant can be found in the Philippines, walking in the tropics, and you will not be able to ignore this exotic plant both during the day and at night.
Strongylodon large-bristled is a relative of beans as it belongs to legumes. Even outwardly flowering brushes are very similar to beans, but their sizes are many times larger. One such brush grows up to 90 cm, so strongylodon thickets look like an arch prepared for a wedding or flower festival.
Due to the unusual color, rarely found in the plant kingdom, the culture received a second name – the jade flower. Now the species is on the verge of extinction, but botanists are actively engaged in breeding it in artificial conditions, therefore, more and more strongylodon large-leaved is grown as a decorative element of gardens.
The inflorescences of this exotic are pollinated not by insects, but by bats, so people who planted it at home should be ready for the invasion of these animals, which flock together to an unusual liana at dusk. At night, it is an unforgettable sight, because after sunset, a substance is activated in the petals, causing a glow in the huge garlands. The aquamarine glow of numerous brushes can amaze even seasoned travelers with its appearance, especially if they stumble upon it in the wild forest. It is this glow that attracts bats so strongly.
Strongylodon is now easier to see in the greenhouse than in the wild. Flowering lasts a very long time: from spring to early summer, after which giant pods grow in place of inflorescences. If you wish, you can grow an unusual plant at home from these fruits, but you need to remember that the vines of this species grow up to 20 m in length, therefore, for the growth of a strongylodon, a large-leaved one must be provided not just with a large and bright room, but a whole hall.