When flowers look like flowers, we mostly appreciate their presence, but sometimes they can trick us. Especially when they take on the form of other creatures of Nature, a white dove, a dancing girl, even a naked man… Here are some of weirdest-looking flowers on earth that resemble something (or somebody) else.
Naked-man orchid (Orchzis Italica)
Naked Man Orchids, also known as Hanging Man Orchids, are native to the Mediterranean and resemble tiny little hanging naked men, right down to every last detail. They come in different sizes (as usual with naked men) and usually range in color from light purplish white to deep purply-pink. The plant has a threatened status, perhaps due to its popularity as an antidiarrheal, antiflatulent and aphrodisiac. These fun flowers are also used to make the drink Salep, also called Turkish Delight.
Dancing Girls (Impatiens bequaertii)
Even the most determined plant collector will have a hard time finding these! Among the rarest flowers, these guys are nicknamed for their resemblance to dancing ladies in dresses. The plant itself is quite petite, growing to just about one foot across and bearing blooms that max out at ½” long. It comes in white and light pink and is native to east Africa – but will root wherever it touches the soil. So it makes an excellent indoor plant – given you can find one.
Lithops Weberi (Lithops comptonii)
A flowering stone? Yes, indeed. Lithops Weberi, otherwise known as Living Stones, are perfect to grow indoors, especially for folks whose thumbs are not so green. Native only to South Africa, their evolutionary progress turned them into a drought-proof plant. When the plant blooms it looks rather peculiar, with a white or yellow daisy poking out from what appears to be solid stone. Thinking of multiplying your Living Stones? Simply take a leaf off of one, stick it into the pebble bed and there you have it. It will take root. Period.
Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)
Why does this orchid have such a unique duck shape? It helps increase its pollination. Its scent attracts sawflies who land on the “bill”, where their weight forces them down and inside the flower, temporarily curling the “bill” down and in. From there, the only way out is through a pollen-laden section of the flower where the sawfly finds itself and then emerges from. Native to Australia, this orchid is difficult to find, despite its shape, beacuse its reddish brownish coloring makes it blend right into the Australian bush. In case you wanted a Flying Duck Orchid for your home greenhouse, we are sorry to let you know that the flower only grows in the wild, in Australia, and has never been propagated. In order to grow, it depends symbiotically on a certain type of vegetative fungus that only grows in Australia.
Protea Pinwheel (Leucospermum catherinae)
Also known as the Catherine-wheel Pincushion, the most exquisite of the “firework pincushion” flowers does indeed looks like a huge spinning firework. The flower heads become disc-shaped with age, about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter, consisting of pale orange flowers. From the center of each flower emerges a long initially orange, later coppery bronze style with a thickened magenta tip that is bent clockwise, giving the entire head the appearance of a whirling pincushion. Or pinwheel. Or Catherine wheel. Anyway, the plant can be grown both indoors and outdoors – it likes good air circulation, full sunlight, and ample drainage. In the wild, however, the protea pinwheel is considered an endangered species, vulnerable due to its fragmented distribution.
Hot Lips (Psychotria elata)
Also called Flower Lips, the bright red bits of this plant that resemble bright red lips are actually bracts, not petals. They only remain in their kissable state for a few days before opening to reveal little yellow and white flowers within. The plant is native to the tropical regions of Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama, but due to its popularity with collectors and the deforestation of its natural habitat it’s landed on the endangered list. Let’s hope we don’t have to kiss this little beauty goodbye anytime soon!
Swaddled Babies (Anguloa uniflora)
Originally discovered in the Colombian Andes between 1777-1788 during a ten year expedition, these cute little baby-like tulip orchids weren’t named and officially classified until 1798. During certain times of the plant’s blooming stage, the flowers’ unique shapes resembles that of a baby all wrapped up in white swaddling. Their scent attracts insects to the hinged lip of the petal where the unsuspecting creatures are shoved into the column. There, a pack of pollen then attaches itself to their abdomens, increasing pollination. You can also grow these plants at home.
Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)
This beautiful little guy gets its name from its uncanny resemblance to a bumblebee. The Bee Orchid is widespread across Europe the Middle East and even north Africa, alas increasingly scarce because the propagation process is so difficult. The plant requires a symbiotic relationship with a certain type of fungus in order to successfully grow, making transplanting extremely difficult. This orchid is cleverer than it appears: the shape of the flower mimics the look and smell of a female bee which entices male bees towards it to mate, thus speeding up the pollination process!
Dove Orchid Or Holy Ghost Orchid (Peristeria elata)
Native to and national flower of Panama, the Dove or Holy Ghost Orchid produces delicately marbled white flowers that, if you look closely, look like they have a small dove with open wings perched inside. Unlike most other orchids that can be found growing on or near trees, this plant grows on ground level, sometimes on rocks. The dove inside the flower is so intricate it looks almost like it’s been carved out of ivory. It’s other name – Holy Ghost Orchid – refers to the Holy Ghost took the form of a dove in the Bible. This type of orchid is so highly-sought and over-picked that it is now classified as endangered in its native country.
Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia gigantea)
Also known as the Giant Pelican Plant, this Brazilian native vaguely resembles not only a pelican, but a Sherlock-style pipe that was popular in Holland (despite being located halfway around the globe). Despite its spectacular appearance, the flower gives off a foul odor, but that’s not the only thing that makes the Giant Dutchman’s Pipe less than appealing. The plant perplexes the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, which confuses it with its native host plant. But the Dutchman’s Pipe does not support the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies’ eggs and will only kill the caterpillars.
Monkey orchid (Dracula simia)
The Dracula genus of orchids – more often referred to as the “Monkey Orchid” – is a family with more than 110 different varieties with an uncanny resemblance to monkey heads. Most of Dracula Orchid Simia specimen have been discovered at the mountainous rain-forests of southern Ecuador and Peru, at altitudes of more than 3,000 feet. This rare plant has the ability to bloom all year round and its flowers smell like ripe oranges, making it a prized addition to any orchid connoisseurs garden.
Parrot Flower (Impatiens psittacina)
If you’ve never seen a Parrot Flower, it’s not a coincidence. Native to Thailand, the plant is classified as endangered and therefore not allowed to leave the country. The cool thing about the flower of this rare species is that when you look at it from the side, it looks just like a parrot in flight. So much so that when images of this flower first began to circulate on the web they were dismissed as being “digitally manipulated” or Photoshopped. But that’s also because very few people had actually seen one as they are so extremely rare in the wild and it’s illegal to remove them.
Snapdragon Seed Pod (Antirrhinum majus)
The common name “snapdragon”, originates from the flowers’ unique reaction to having their throats squeezed, which causes the “mouth” of the flower to snap open like a dragon’s mouth. Another, less known, chracteristic of the plant is that produces “dragon skulls” once the Snapdragon has gone to seed! Not surprisingly, in ancient times people believed Snapdragons held mystical powers, and that growing them in one’s garden would protect one’s home from curses and evil. Fight fire with fire, one would say.
Tiger Face in Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)
In nature, the stripings and markings on flowers are evolved to either mimic larger animals in order to scare away predators, or to resemble the genitals of insects in order to attract the largest number of pollinators and propagate. In the case of the Moon Orchid, one of Indonesia’s three national flowers, the stripes look almost exactly like that of a tiger! Makes you wonder what kind animals this pretty little flower is trying to scare off.
Chamber Maids (Calceolaria uniflora)
Also called Darwin’s Slipper, and the Happy Alien, these little mountain flowers are truly unique. Originally discovered by Darwin between 1831 and 1836, the Chamber Maids love cold weather and can still be found in profusion in Tierra del Fuego, South America. The little white “plate” section of the flower tantalizes local birds who eat it and, in doing so, gather pollen on their heads and in turn aid in the pollination of the plant. They also make the plants look like tiny women wearing maids aprons.
Angel Orchid (Zygopetalum rhein)
Named for its uncanny resemblance to an angel wearing a gown, the Angel Orchid was first discovered in 1932 and is native to the grasslands of India. The Angel Orchid is a rather short orchid in stature, topping out at just 5 inches high, with a single heart-shaped leaf that sits flat on the ground. The flowers themselves bloom in clusters ranging from one single orchid flower to five. They are the first orchids to bloom with the onset of monsoon season. It is a super fast growing orhcid and smells very pleasant.
Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)
The Fly Orchid is a relatively widespread type of European orchid that grows to be between 11 and 15 inches tall. Its flowers look like little flies, with big, black, bug eyes and all of that. The name, however, refers to the plan’s ability to attracts flies and aphids. Its tuber can be dried and turned into Salep which is said to be very nutritious (that said, we take no responsibility for any ill effects caused by eating your orchids!).
White Egret Orchid (Pecteilis radiata)
The White Egret Orchid, one of the most delicate and intricate of orchids, looks almost exactly like the bird it was named after – when the egret is in full flight. It is among the most distinctive orchids and is therefore extremely popular with plant collectors and gardeners alike. This wild orchid variety flourishes in Asia and has also proven to successfully flourish in the United States. The flying bird-like flowers of the White Egret Orchid grow along a single spike, and a single spike can yield up to ten individual flowers and can grow up to sixteen inches tall!
Virgin Mary in Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)
This coastal-loving orchid comes almost exclusively in white and at first appears to be a common Moth Orchid. Upon closer inspection, however, it looks as if a like a tiny carving of the Catholic Madonna has been placed inside. The Virgin Orchid is an excellent home for ants as the bulbous bottom of the plant, and the pseudo bulbous area below new stem growth are actually hollow and filled with tunnels and caverns, making perfect natural homes for ants. But don’t worry, the ants won’t harm your plant!
Devil’s Hand (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and this is especially true for this very special orchid. Also called the Monkey’s Hand or Monkey Paw, the Devil’s Hand Orchid is native to Mexico where the Ancient Aztecs held it in especially high religious regard, harvesting the claw-like flowers for generations and generations. The fruit produced by this tree has an earth(l)y taste and has been used in traditional medicine to treat heart disease and heart conditions. Unlike some other orchids, the Devil’s Hand is extremely hardy and can grow relatively fast, reaching upwards of 40′ to 90′ tall!
Lobster Claw (Heliconia rostrata)
This compilation of weird flowers that look like something else would simply not be complete without the charming, colourful Lobster Claw. Also known as the False Bird of Paradise and Wild Plantain, the Lobster Claw’s colorful flowers emerge from clumps of leaves that look like bananas. The reddish flower-like bracts actually hide the plant’s true flowers, which require birds with specialized beaks for pollination. An excellent landscape plant, the Lobster Claw can grow up to a height of 3.5′ tall and it blooms several times a year.
Do you know of any other interesting-looking plant that looks like something else? Please do not hesitate to share it in comments!