1Monkey Face Orchid (Dracula simia)
Let's face it (pun intended), naming this little guy didn't take a whole lot of imagination – “Dracula," a flower named as such because of its two long, fang-like petals and “Simia” for its resemblance to primates. Its two dark eyes, fuzzy dotted eyebrows, and furry nose and beard area bear striking simian resemblances that become even more obvious when viewed from a distance. (It might as well be called the baboon faced orchid, but who's keeping track?)
The Monkey Face Orchid is incredibly rare so don't get upset if you've never seen one before. It is only found in the cloud forests of Peru and southeastern Ecuador at altitudes of more than 3,000 feet. It can bloom all year round, thrives in intermediate-to-warm weather, and its flowers smell like ripe oranges, making it a prized addition to any orchid connoisseurs garden.
To create an especially striking bouquet or floral arrangement starring Dracula Simia, consider pairing the pointy orchid with bushy, fluffy plants and flowers like the wild pussy. A small detail to keep in mind: some Monkey Face Orchids grow large, with down-turned pointy petals while others produce a smaller, fuzzier bloom that look more like monkey faced-cotton balls. If you're more into morbid floristry, try making an arrangement out of the Monkey Face Orchid and a bunch of Dragon's Skulls (dead and dried snapdragons).
2Naked Man Orchid (Orchis italica)
Is it an alien? Is it a sea anemone? Should you have said yes to that post-rave cup of coffee in hopes of quelling your neon visions? Nope, it's the Naked Man Orchid! Also known as the Hanging Man Orchid, these flowers native to the Mediterranean regions and resemble tiny little hanging naked men, from their dotted eyes and smiles right down to their little, but proud you-know-whats.
Naked Man Orchids come in all sizes and usually range in color from light purplish-white to deep purple-pink. Some hybrids of this flower have broader pink petals that enclose the top of the flower, almost like a hood or a bonnet.
The Naked Man Orchid is classified as having a threatened status, perhaps because of its popularity as an antidiarrheal, antiflatulent and aphrodisiac. Another crazy fact about these fun flowers: they're used in making the drink salep (also called Turkish Delight).
Want to try out your own batch of homemade salep? Well, if you've got an abundance of these little rarities, you can grind up the tubers into a flower that resembles arrowroot. (This is the basis of the thick, sweet, coffee-like drink.)
Because the Naked Man Orchid has a threatened status, it is illegal to export true salep powder from the Mediterranean regions.
3Devils Hand (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)
If idle hands are the devil's workshop, we're not sure what the Devil's Hands are, but we sure love to look at them and play with them! Some call this tree the Monkey's Hand, Hand-Flower or Monkey Paw, but we wouldn't recommend making any wishes on it (though we will say that it makes an amazing living headpiece or handheld bouquet, especially around Halloween).
The Devil's Hand is native to Mexico where the Ancient Aztecs held it in especially high religious regard and harvested the claw-like flowers for generations.
Can you blame them for holding the flower in such high esteem? The fruit produced by this tree has an earthy taste and has been used for years in traditional medicine to treat many afflictions from heart disease to a variety of other conditions. The claw part of this flower emerges from the otherwise normal-looking bloom, like an unholy creature emerging to snatch its prey.
Want to capitalize on this flower's evil façade? Pair it with a few black Chinese Batflowers and Doll's Eyes, otherwise known as white baneberry, and you've got a special occasion centerpiece your guests won't soon forget. (Be careful if you have pets, however, as Doll's Eye is extremely toxic.)
Unlike some tropical plants the Devil's Hand tree is extremely hardy and can grow relatively fast, reaching upwards of 35–90 feet tall!
4Parrot Flower (Impatiens psittacina)
If you've never seen a Parrot Flower before you're not alone. We're talking about a flower so rare that many people still doubt it's actual existence. Thailand' Parrot Flower is also known as the “parrot balsam,” and is classified as endangered and not allowed out of the country. If you want to find out whether or not this little wonder exists, you'll have to book a flight to visit Manipur, India, Burma or a tiny region in northern Thailand near Chiang Mai.
When you look at the flower's side profile, it looks just like a parrot or cockatoo in flight! When images of the Parrot Flower began to circulate on the internet, they were dismissed as being digitally manipulated because very few people had actually seen one. What do you think? Does this flower really exist?
5Bee Orchid (Ophrys bombyliflora)
This happy little guy gets its name from its uncanny resemblance to a smiling bumblebee, that is if bumblebees could smile. Its name comes from the Greek word “ophrys,” meaning eyebrow, which perhaps refers to the fuzzy bits around the edge of the flower. Some Bee Orchids stick to the cream, brown and gold color scheme while others have a pinkish hue to their petals.
You'd think that the Bee Orchid got its name from looking like, well, a honeybee, but you'd be wrong. The Bee Orchid got its nickname because bees are this flower's main pollinator. The flower is native to Malta, and it's becoming more and more scarce because the propagation process is so difficult. You see, the Bee Orchid requires a symbiotic relationship with a certain type of fungus in order to successfully grow, which makes transplanting it extremely difficult.
Bee Orchids thrive in grasslands, but surprisingly enough, they have also have been found growing out of dry, chalky limestone! This orchid is also cleverer than it appears. The coloring and shape of the flower mimic the look and smell of a female bee, which entices male bees towards it to mate, thus expediting the pollination process!
While Australian Bee Orchids have a healthy population of pollinators nearby, other parts of the world aren't as lucky. In places like the UK, the right species of bee simply doesn't exist, which led the Bee Orchids of the UK to become self-pollinators.
6Swaddled Babies (Anguloa uniflora)
Too cute! These adorable little tulip orchids, nicknamed Swaddled Babies, were discovered in the Colombian Andes during a ten-year expedition between 1777-1788 but weren't named and officially classified until 1798.
During certain times of this complex plant's blooming stage, the flowers unique shape resembles that of a baby all wrapped up in white swaddling. Some of us here think that Swaddled Babies look more like the inside of mussels, but we'll leave the decision up to you!
In their native South American habitat, the Swaddled Babies Orchid is a summer bloomer, and not hard to miss if you know what to look for. The white, waxy flowers can grow up to 10cm across and smell amazingly sweet. Their tempting scent attracts insects to the hinged lip of the petal. The unsuspecting creatures are shoved into the column, where a pack of pollen then attaches itself to their abdomens, increasing pollination.
7Hooker's Lips (Psychotria elata)
Hooker's Lips, Hot Lips, Flower Lips – call them what you will – there's no guessing as to how this seductive plant got its name. The bright red bits that resemble a hooker's bright red lips are actually bracts, not petals. The leaf-like bracts are only in their kissable state for a few days before opening to reveal the little yellow and white flowers within, which almost look like the plant is sticking its tongue out at you, mocking you.
If this working girl looks especially trippy, there's a good reason. Turns out the Hooker's Lips flower comes from a genus in the plant family Rubiaceae that produces psychedelic chemicals like Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). With 1990 different kinds of species, it's quite a large genus to say the least and several species of Hooker's Lips are marked with dark spots that are bacteria-filled nodules.
The plants are native to the tropical regions of Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama. Due to their popularity with collectors and the deforestation of their natural habitat, Hooker's Lips have landed on the endangered list. Hope we don't have to kiss these little wonders goodbye anytime soon!
8Bat-faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)
Another strikingly beautiful flower that we're not sure if we should run from – the Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea Iluvea). This heat-loving perennial is native to Mexico and grows in sprawling mounds that are characterized by their bright red and dark purple tubular flowers resembling the face of a bat.
The Bat Face Cuphea, also known as the Cigar Plant, Peter's Plant or Bunny Ears, grows anywhere between 1' and 2' tall, with hairy, trowel-like leaves. The plant is extremely drought-resistant and heat-tolerant, but still enjoys a good watering once per week. Bat Face Cupheas don't simply add pops and splashes of color to the garden; they attract hummingbirds and butterflies, too! Swallowtail and Sulphur butterflies especially enjoy the sweet nectar hidden inside the little Bat Faces.
Considering adding the Bat Face Cuphea to your garden? They make perfect hanging baskets, container flowers and look especially nice when used as borders.
9Lithops Weberi (Lithops comptonii)
You may have heard of a pet stone before, but a flowering stone? Nope, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you; it's Lithops Weberi, otherwise known as Living Stones. These awesome succulents are perfect indoors, especially for folks whose thumbs are not so green.
Like most succulents, the Lithops Weberi is extra hardy and remains unfazed with changes in conditions or environment. These little wonders are native only to South Africa, where their evolutionary progress turned them into a drought-proof plant.
When Lithops bloom, it looks extraordinary, with a white or yellow daisy poking out from what appears to be solid stone. And talk about easy to propagate! If you want to multiply your Living Stones, simply take a leaf off of one, stick it into the pebble bed, and it will take root. That's it.
If your Living Stone begins to take on a stretched-out or oblong shape, it is because the plant isn't getting enough sunlight. Simply place the little fella in direct sunlight for a few days and watch as it returns to its short, stubby, lovable self.
If creepy plants that look like rocks and other things are in your wheelhouse, consider adding the Bleeding Tooth Fungus and the Octopus Stinkhorn (don't worry, that last one's just a mushroom).
10Corpse lily (Amorphophallus titanum)
This monster of a plant was made famous in the movie Dennis the Menace. It blooms so infrequently that whenever one does, it often makes local and sometimes global headlines.
The Corpse Lily is technically a compound flower – though still considered the world's largest single flower – and only grows in Indonesia, specifically Sumatra. If you're wondering what kind of pollinators would be interested in such a stinky bud, the answer is carrion beetles and flies.
Surprised? It's name comes from the Ancient Greek “amorphos” which means, “without form, misshapen.” Not only is this flower extremely rare, but it's extremely large. Some can grow up to 12 feet tall with flowers weighing up to 25 pounds!
Despite its disgusting stench and a rather phallic appearance, the Corpse Lily is the official flower of the rain forests of Borneo. Another little-known fact about the Corpse Lily: each flower (if successfully pollinated, that is) can produce up to four million seeds.