"one must be cunning and wicked in this world"
It's kind of freaky Friday around here, so in the spirit of all Hallow's eve we would like to share some fierce flora with you. All plants are extraordinary, but here we are profiling some real evildoers alongside some visual mind bogglers. Expect both beautiful and ghoulish botanicals and murderous vegetation, some of which may even be skulking in your garden...
Name : Halfeti Rose. Origin : Turkey. Phenomenon : the only known black Rose. Status : extremely rare
Name : Euphorbia. Habitat : Commonly found in English country gardens. Classification : Poisonous. Threat level : high. Character : avoid the milky sap excreted from the plant. Dastardly deeds : Used to make poison arrows throughout history. The name euphorbia is synonymous with poison in Africa.
Name : Skeleton flower, Diphylleia Grayi. Habitat : woodlands, Japan. Phenomenon : flowers turn transparent in the rain. Status : awesome!
Name : Arachnoid Sempervivum. Habitat : common house Leek. Phenomenon : rosettes appear to be coated in spider webs. Classification : beneficial. Including herbal remedies, sap used as a coolant for wounds, 'sempervivum' means 'live forever' in Latin.
Name : Wolfsbane, Aconitum. Habitat : Commonly found in English country gardens. Classification : Poisonous. Threat level : high. Character : intoxicatingly beautiful. Dastardly deeds : Nazi scientists used it as an ingredient in poisoned bullets.
Name : Poppy, Papaver. Habitat : Commonly found in British countrysides. Classification : Toxic. Threat level : potentially lethal. Character : all parts except the seeds are toxic. Contains alkaloids including morphine and codeine, which combine to produce resinous opium. Dastardly deeds : have you seen the Wizard of OZ?!
Name : Snap Dragon, Antirrhinum. Habitat : commonly found in English country and suburban gardens. Phenomenon : the seed heads look like human skulls. Also, the origin of the name 'snap dragon' derives from squeezing the throats of the flowers and they pop open... like a dragon's jaw... Why on earth was someone strangling flowers in the first place? Status : creepy.
Name : Eucalyptus macrocarpa. Habitat : Western Australia. Phenomenon : spectacular flower pods. Status : magical
Name : Dracula benedictii, Grinning Monkey Orchid. Origin : Columbia. Phenomenon : look like cheeky monkeys. Status : bizarre
Name : Trachyandra tortilis. Habitat : house plant. Phenomenon : squiggle stems. Origin : Africa
Name : Corpse plant, Rafflesia flower. Habitat : Rainforests of South Asia. Phenomenon : flowers can weigh up to 10kg. Called the Corpse plant because it excretes a smell like rotting flesh. Status : rare. Known as 'The Queen of all parasitic organisms'.
Name : Werewolf Plant, Ephedera foeminca. Habitat : sandy shores and soils with direct sun contact. Phenomenon : this lunar loving plant only flowers during the night of a full moon. Status : strange but real
Name : The Gympie gympie. Habitat : woodlands, Northern Australia. Classification : serial killer - the world's most venomous plant. Threat level : murderous. Character : stinging hairs cover the whole plant and deliver a neurotoxin when touched. The effect is described as - like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time. Dastardly deeds : high death toll. Once stung never forgotten - if a victim survives a sting the pain will last for months and then will reoccur years after they have seemingly recovered. Extracts are potentially being developed as a biological weapon. Status : Terrible. Extraordinary Fact : There are marsupials that feed off the Gympie gympie so are seemingly immune to it's venom. Perhaps the little critters are the plant's kryptonite... see below
The Red legged Pademelon thrives on a diet of toxic salad from the Gympie gympie plant.
Name : El Arbo de la Sabina (Ancient Juniper Tree). Habitat : Spanish Canary island. Phenomenon : ancient defiance of high winds. Status : hauntingly beautiful
Occurence : following the Pakistan floods in 2010. Phenomenon : millions of spiders took refuge from the floods in trees, cocooning them entirely.
Nectaroscordum in a Hendy Curzon woodland garden
Ghost Flower, this one is called Casper
Darth Vader Orchid
Its those cheeky monkeys again, these ones are befittingly named Dracula Simia.
Yes, that's right, those cottage garden flowers that we all covet and drool over are really a bunch of reprobates too, they just bewitch us with their beauty.
Oh, how they mock us!
Delinquent Delphiniums / Larkspur, Foxgloves, Hydrangeas... the list grows
Rooted in evil : The popular Cala Lilly's roots are highly toxic.
"and now my pretties, something with poison in it, I think. With poison in it but attractive to the eye, and soothing to the smell"
Lilly of the Valley - such an unassuming name for this little lethal weapon.
The Nightmare before Christmas : Hellebores. The Christmas Rose ain't so Christmassy anymore...
Well, we hope we have not completely rendered your garden a place you now fear to tread... as if all those villanous flowers lay in wait to ambush you next time you venture out. At the end of the day, the parts of the commonly grown noxious plants are harmful if injested, and generally in large quantities. So fear not, we just advise that you don't make a meal of your borders, and wear gloves if you are handling the likes of Foxgloves, Euphorbias and Aconitum.
love at first bite : little H in an HC garden
Farewell from us!
Wicked Plants Sourcebook : Ellis Hollow, Lost at minor.com, Andrew Kearton, Pinterest, Amy Stewart, Peter Nydegger, Plant Propoganda, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Kew, Bored Panda, Hendy Curzon Gardens, Australia Geographic, Ngoc Minh Ngo