Flower is one of the most tender and most elegant elements found. You don’t necessarily have to be an aesthete to appreciate its beauty. Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed his appreciation as follows. “Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.” Enough has been written about its shape and colour, fragrance, usage and derivatives. In this article we will look into something less talked about, their names. Like etymology of any name, plants too have history and story about why they are called such. Here is the list of unique flower names- so unusual for flowers that would make you say ‘what?’
1) Bastard Toadflax
So, we will begin with a rather funny named flower called ‘bastard toadflax’. It is a woody, creeping, sometimes parasitic flower, found in western North America, having thick leaves and dull white flowers. It is called toadflax because its yellow flowers have resemblance to a frog’s mouth. Yet another botanist suggested that it received its name because frogs/toads will shelter themselves on its branches. So, it was all about ‘toad’ but what about ‘bastard’? It is referred as bastard in a sense that its looks and shape are rather deceiving. Neither the flower nor its leaves actually resemble flax or yellow toadflax. Hence, sometimes also called as ‘False Toadflax’. Their small fruits are edible, if eaten in moderation, with sweet taste.
2) Snapdragon Skull Flower
Next in our list of unique flower names is ‘Snapdragon skull flower’. They are believed to be of Mediterranean origin and commonly found in rocky areas of North Africa, Europe and North America. They belong to Antirrhinum genus which is also known as Dragon Flowers or Snapdragon. They are called such because when such flowers are squeezed laterally its looks like the face of a dragon. This species has been in culture since the fifteenth century. This flower gets even more interesting when it withers away and dies, thereby leaving behind a seed pod. This seed pod looks unbelievably creepy in appearance which you couldn’t have thought of in your wildest imagination. These flower seed pods look like tiny human skulls! In ancient times, because of its gruesome and macabre look, people thought of it to have possessed mystical powers and used them to shield their home from witches and curses.
3) Monkey Orchid
Then we have a flower with not only an amusing name but also an amusing appearance. It is called ‘Monkey Orchid’, also known as Dracula simian. They are named as such because of its obvious resemblance with the face of a monkey. It is also reported that the orchid was named by botanist Carlyle Luer in 1978. They are mostly found in rain forests of Ecuador and Peru at elevations ranging from 1000 to 2000 mt. This flower does not have a specific season and can blossom anytime. It has a fragrance akin to ripe oranges. You must have noted the word ‘Dracula’ in its name, which is nothing but the genus it belongs to.
4) Skunk Cabbage
Our list of unique flower names gets its new member with a flower called ‘Skunk Cabbage’. It generally grows in the wetlands and moist, swampy areas in Eastern North America and can grow up to one to three feet tall. It is scientifically known as Symplocarpus Foetidus. It is a perennial flowering plant and it is one of the first plants to emerge in the spring. The flower is also peculiar in its ability to heat itself to about 15 degrees Celsius through chemical processes. This ability to heat itself helps it grow through snow cover. Its bruised petal emits a terrible smell that resembles a skunk or decaying flesh. This stench lures the insects which pollinate it.
5) Hooker’s Lips
Now we turn to a very exotic flower with an equally exotic name – ‘Hooker’s Lips’. Hooker’s Lips or Psychotria elata, is also known as ‘Hot lips’, and is a tropical plant. It is found in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Mexico. These luscious, blood-red lip shaped red bracts of the flower would leave you wondering about funny ways nature manifests itself. These bracts are ideal for attracting pollinators – hummingbirds and butterflies. They do remain in shape of list for a short while before they open themselves, exposing the flower within. Being bracts, they are not really the flowers but extravagant leaves concealing the flowers in the initial stages. This plant has become endangered due to widespread deforestation.
6) Red Hot Pocker
Carrying forward the legacy of ‘red’, the next entry in our list of ‘unique flower names’ is ‘Red Hot Pocker’ – Kniphofia, also known as ‘torch lily’. It won’t take you much of imagination to know how it’s named. Their evergreen species carrying tall, flower spikes in bright red and orange colors resembles a red torch growing up to five feet tall. Torch lily is, in fact, a misnomer, as they are not members of the Liliaceae family. They are native to South Africa and they normally bloom in spring and summer. This plant needs adequately drained soil and full sun.
7) Eyeball Plant
Do you remember the second flower on the list? A flower that produced creepy seed pods? Here is another flower that can make a perfect ‘Halloween’ bouquet. The ‘Eyeball Plant’ – Acmella oleracea – also known as ‘toothache plant’ or ‘electric daisy’ is one among the 30 species of tender and perennial herbs of the daisy family. They are native to Brazil. These plants grow up to fifteen inches tall and produce yellow or golden yellow eye shaped flowers. They are also known as ‘toothache plant’ due to the spilanthol found in their flowers and leaves. Spilanthol is a natural analgesic that can be used to numb toothache.
8) Naked Man Orchid
To make our list of ‘unique flower names’ funnier, we can’t miss to include another variety of orchid called ‘Naked Man Orchid’. Orchis italic is also called as Italian orchid, and is native to the Mediterranean. It is generally found in the Middle East, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey. Being an orchid, it prefers shade and its lobed lip resembles the shape of a naked man. This peculiar resemblance of it with a man’s genitalia made people in the Roman times believed that it is useful to treat virility problems. It generally flowers during April and May.
9) Wool Flower
Next in our list of ‘unique flower names’ is ‘Wool Flower’, also known as cockscomb flower. This flower comes in a variety of textures, with its head developed above the foliage, which looks like cockscomb. These odorless flowers are easily grown in full or partial sunlight and well drained soil. This flower, due to its velvety or woolly texture, is also known as ‘Wool Flower’. The exact origins of these flowers are yet not known but it is generally believed to have developed in Africa and India. This flower has five to twelve days of vase life. This flower is also called as ‘Brain Flower’ because of their velvety folds, resembling the human brain. Due to its rather bold statement in style and size, this flower is not preferred in bouquets.
10) Corpus Flower
There is another flower that is very similar to ‘Skunk Cabbage’ in terms of its smell. The stench of it even surpasses that of ‘Skunk Cabbage’. This horribly smelly flower is rightly called ‘Corpus Flower’ – Amorphophallus titanium. It is also one of the world’s largest and rarest flowers. During its short span of bloom, it releases a pungent smell similar to a rotten corpse. Dead flesh-eating insects like dung beetles and flesh flies are its pollinators. These flower plants are native to Sumatra, Indonesia, but due to its rarity, they have been planted in many botanical gardens around the world.
We will end this list with a not so flowery flower called ‘Sundew’ also known as Drosera. Sundew is among the largest carnivorous plant. They are found in tropical and temperate regions with sandy, acidic soil. It is really a faux flower with shiny, glittering, sticky drops spread across its top surface or tentacles. They look like dewdrops and attract unsuspecting insects looking for nectar, and when thy land on it, they got trapped – to be released only at their death. On getting hold of an insect, it rolls up the edges of its leaves and enfolds the prey.
12) Parrot Flowers
We don’t want to end our list with ‘insects eating flowers’ and flowers with ‘mundane names’. It betrays the perception of tenderness and beauty associated with it. So here is a flower with pink and purple petals, making it one of a kind. Continuing with the orchid, we have what is called as ‘Parrot Flowers’, scientifically known as Impatiens psittacina. It was first discovered in the deep forests of Southeast Asia, in Shan States of Upper Burma by Arthur Hedding Hildebrand. It resembles the flying cockatoo or flying parrot. It is mostly found in Thailand, Burma and some parts of India. Their pollination process has also been a mystery, for it is not known what actually helps in its pollination. This flower species is so rare that the Thai government has banned its exports.