It’s not easy when you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Some plants have evolved in unique ways to survive. From flowers with monkey faces to happy alien-like blooms, here are nine incredible plants that look nothing like what you would expect.
Parrot Flower (Impatiens Psittacina)
The parrot flower is mainly found in Thailand and some parts of eastern India. The plant only blooms for a few weeks – between October and November every year. When in full bloom, the flowers are red and light purple, and look just like a cockatoo in flight. The parrot flower can only be found in tropical forests, and Thailand has declared it a protected species. It is so rare that there is a ban on its export.
Laughing Bumble Bee Orchid (Ophrys Bomybliflora)
The aptly-named orchid copies the shape of a female bee to trick male bees into pollinating it, ensuring it doesn’t die out. It is native to Portugal, Turkey, and Lebanon. Each flower has three petals and the middle petal looks just like a happy bee.
Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana Major)
The flying duck orchid is a small orchid species found in eastern and southern Australia. Just like its name implies, its flowers look like a purple flying duck. While the flower looks like a duck to humans, the male sawfly sees it as a female sawfly – it gets attracted to the flower and it tries to mate with it. The insect then gets caught in the “beak” of the flower and releases pollen as it tries to break free from it. Flying duck orchids only grow in open forests and woodlands, and are listed as a vulnerable species due to destruction of its habitat.
Swaddled Babies (Anguloa Uniflora)
These look like wrapped up babies, and can be found around Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The name refers to the flowers’ appearance of a tiny baby wrapped in a swaddling cloth. The flowers are creamy or white in colour, and have a waxy feel to them. The plant is between 45cm and 60cm tall and is one of the largest orchid species in the world.
Happy Alien (Calceolaria Uniflora)
Also known as Darwin’s Slippers, the Happy Alien plant is native to South America and can be found on the remote peaks of the Andes and Patagonia. This strange-looking plant grows to 13cm high, and has red and orange flowers, complete with two white “eyes” and a white “limb” on the bottom petal that makes it look like the face of a laughing alien.
Monkey Face Orchid (Dracula Simia)
This orchid looks very much like a monkey’s face – but smells like an orange! It is found in the forests of southeastern Ecuador and Peru. Its flowers come in many colours – purple, pink, red, orange, blue, white, brown, and green. What is most fascinating about this plant is that the petals of the flowers form the face of a monkey even though they all have irregular dots and stripes. The Monkey Face Orchid also has an interesting scientific name that refers to the two long extensions from the bottom petal that make them look like Dracula’s fangs. We hope it doesn’t intend to suck our blood!
Dancing Girls (Impatiens Bequaertii)
The Impatiens Bequaertii is one of the rarest species of flowers in the world, and is native to the rainforests of East Africa. The flowers come in two colours – light pink and white – and the petals look like a little dancing girl with outstretched arms. This miniature plant grows to just about 30cm and each flower is no more than 2cm long.
Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
Just like their name suggests, Bleeding Hearts bear heart-shaped flowers, with a little “drop of blood” dangling from the bottom of each one. According to Japanese folklore, the flower tells the story of a prince who tried to woo a maiden with gifts. The flower can be pulled apart to reveal the whole sad tale. Check it out online. Bleeding Hearts usually grow to a height of between 60cm and 90cm, and they are native to Siberia, northern China, Korea, and Japan.
Dove Orchid (Peristeria Elata)
This elegant orchid is the national flower of Panama and can be found in the rainforests of Central America. It is commonly known as the Dove Orchid because of the tiny, delicate “dove” that sits in the centre of each flower. Unfortunately, this orchid species is almost extinct because people love it so much they pick them all the time.