Mother Nature gave birth to an astounding variety of flowers, some of which are unquestionably stunning while others are quite disturbing and arouse nothing but mixed feelings. From creepy monkey-faced orchids to monstrous looking Subterranean Plants, the world’s weirdest flowers have particularly odd lifestyles tucked away in distant corners of the globe. Here’s 7 of the globe’s strangest flowers to show you just how crazy various flora can be. If you have someone in your life that appreciates all things odd, these are the flowers to send them.
#1. Monkey Business – Monkey Face Orchid (Dracula simia)
This orchid must be the most bizarre one you’ve ever seen. Let’s face it (or not?), it’s not every day that you come across a flower that has a face – a creepy dracula-monkey face to be more precise! That’s right, its resemblance to primates is pretty striking: dark little eyes with fuzzy eyebrows, furry nose and big open mouth with beard looks almost too real. To find this rare oddity is not easy. Monkey Face Orchids grow only in the forests of Peru and southeastern Ecuador at altitudes of more than 3,000 feet.
#2. The Queen of Morbid Beauty – Corpse Lily (Rafflesia arnoldii)
Rafflesia arnoldii is the queen of morbid beauty and the world’s largest individual flower with a macabre name – the Corpse Lily. The name comes from the revolting decaying odor produced to attract pollinators. This unattractive parasitic organism doesn’t look anything like a common flower: it has no visible leaves, roots or stems.
This alienesque plant that measures up to three feet across and weighs 15-25 pounds is not easy to come by. Rare and endangered, it can only be found in Indonesia where it’s considered a symbol of Borneo rain forests and even depicted on local postage stamps.
#3. World’s Stinkiest Flower – Corpse Flower (Titan Arum)
The corpse lily is not the only flower in the world that’s known for stinking. Often confused with each other, Corpse Lily and Titan Arum (Corpse Flower) are actually two very different plants that both come from the rain forests of Indonesia.
One of the world’s largest and rarest flowering plants, the corpse flower blooms infrequently and only for a short period of time. Not only hard to find in the wild, it is also extremely large, with some plants growing up to 12 feet tall and weighing nearly 200 pounds!
Unlike most flowers, when in bloom Titan Arum does not release a heavenly aroma. Apparently, it is one of the foulest smelling flower in the world that has a strong odor of rotting flesh. The smell and the dark red color of this monster of a plant are meant to imitate a dead animal to attract carnivorous insects for pollination.
#4. It’s Naked Man, Hallelujah! – Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica)
Orchids come in countless shapes and colors, but have you ever seen the ones that look like naked men? Literally, instead of petals, Orchis Italica, known as the Naked Man Orchid, has a bunch of tiny naked men hanging from it. And you can definitely tell those are men, not women! Sure this is a Photoshop prank? Oh, they are quite real. Native to the Mediterranean area including Morocco, Lebanon and southern Italy, this plant is stranger than fiction and even has a legend associated with it. According to the tale, the Naked Man Orchid was kind of a deadly trap for fairies where they died and turned into flower’s petals. In ancient times, the plant was also viewed as an aphrodisiac and used in stimulant drinks.
#5. Catch it if You Can – Starfish Flower (Stapelia grandiflora)
There is no way the unique, striking appearance and touchable fuzzy flowers of Starfish Flower won’t catch your eye. But it’s the horrifying odor that will send you running for the hills! This is another carrion plant and while it might look better than the others, you’d be better off keeping Starfish Flower outside your house. Why? Because of its disgusting smell of dead flesh that attracts flies and other insects to pollinate its blooms. Native to South Africa, the plant’s flowers range from deep reds and pinks, and even yellow, and come in different sizes from a couple of inches high to plants that bear 12-inch wide flowers.
#6. Berry and The Beast – Subterranean Plant (Hydnora africana)
Looking like an alien monster, the South African Subterranean Plant is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre on Earth. With no visible leaves, roots or chlorophyll this brown-grey “body” doesn’t look anything like a living plant. Often taken for a fungi, it can be distinguished from it only when the flower opens up. And it takes almost a year for this parasitic underground “creature” with a foul smell to emerge from the ground! But don’t judge the book by its cover. Called Jackal Food, Hydnora Africana produces delicious berries that take up to two years to ripen. The berries have a sweet taste similar to a potato and are especially good when cooked over an open fire.
#7. Myth vs Reality – Bulbophyllum medusae
Another “weirdo” from an orchid family, Bulbophyllum Medusae must be seen to be believed. The long slender sepals of its flowers grow up to 6in long and are named after the mythical gorgon Medusa. In Greek mythology, Medusa was a female monster, with living venomous snakes instead of hair who turned anyone who looked upon her face into stone.
Originated in the Malay Peninsula, Thailand and Borneo, Bulbophyllum medusae are now cultivated by flower lovers all around the world who are fascinated by its unusual beauty and not discouraged by the flower’s peculiar odor.
As we know, in the world of floristry, beauty is a common thing. But like with other things in life, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Flowers are versatile, they come in every shape and color of the rainbow which doesn’t make some of them less interesting than others. Whether it’s the classic beauty of roses or extravagant orchids you’re fascinated with, there’s no doubt that the flowers add something intangible into our lives and make it brighter in many ways.
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I have been fortunate enough to work my dream job – professional hype woman (aka marketeer) for over 8 years. In that time, I’ve gotten to learn about countries and customs all over the world. Expand my food knowledge, and flex a few weird nerd facts along the way.