Eric is a bookwormy and logophilic science and technology teacher. He often writes about scientific thought, theories and, research.
Have you seen a plant that looks like a stone? And how about a tree that has rainbow-colored branches? Yes, they exist! You probably know that there are many beautiful and amazing plants on our planet, but this list presents an unusual group of them that you may never have seen or heard of! Curious to see these lovely plants and want to learn facts about them?
This article discusses the following 10 plants which are some of the most beautiful (and unusual) in the world:
- Bleeding heart
- Living stones or Lithops
- Rainbow eucalyptus
- Jave vine
- White bat flower
- Sugar maple
- Lady's eardrop or Fuchsia
Mammillaria is a genus of cactus. Its members are native to Central America, particularly in Mexico. They are spherical and usually tiny. The diameter of their body (the stem) depends on the species but can range from 1 to 40 centimeters. They have spikes, like other cactuses, which protect them from herbivores.
The blooms are funnel-shaped and grow in a crown-like formation on the top of the stem in a circular pattern. Depending on the species, the color of the flower varies from pink, yellow, red, green, and white.
2. Bleeding Heart
Scientific name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis
The bleeding heart belongs to the poppy family native to Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan. It is the sole species of its genus. It is a shade-loving, perennial herb that can only grow 3-feet in height. It has brown-pink stems and three-lobed, fernlike foliage.
The plant is known for its cluster of heart-shaped flowers that dangle from arching stems. They have a droplet beneath that resembling a bleeding heart, hence its name. The outer petals are rosy red while the inner petals are white. They typically bloom at the beginning of spring and go dormant during summer.
3. Living Stones or Lithops
There are many different species of living stone. These species fall within the Lithops genus of the carpetweed family (Aizoaceae) and all species of Lithops are native to Namibia, Botswana, Angola, and South Africa.
The leaves of these plants have a stone-like appearance, thus their name. They have a pair of thick, round leaves that, depending on the species, color ranges from gray, brown, red, and green. The leaves have various patterns — dots, patches, and lines — similar to patterns of the rocks.
The coloration and patterns serve as camouflage so they won't be easily seen by herbivores. As they are mostly found in rocky areas, their mimic is more effective. In summer, they develop a tiny, daisy-like flower.
4. Rainbow Eucalyptus
Scientific name: Eucalyptus deglupta
The rainbow eucalyptus tree or Mindanao gum is a very tall eucalyptus tree native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. It can grow up to 250 meters in height. Rainbow eucalyptus is dubbed as the “world's most beautiful tree” due to its multi-colored barks.
The bark has vertical streaks of violet, orange, blue, green, yellow, and red. At the first glance, it looks like an abstract painting on a tree. The coloration is caused by the pigment tannins that are produced when the cells on the surface of the bark got old. It is used ornamental trees in gardens, streets, and parks.
Calathea is a genus comprising more than 200 species belonging to the prayer plant family Marantaceae. Its species live in the tropical forests of the Americas, but many of them are grown as indoor plants. Their height can reach about two feet tall.
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They have impressive, exotic foliage that is large and known for its eye-catching colorful patterns. The patterns vary depending on the kind but can be patchy, stripped, or spotted with numerous color patterns. Their leaves fold up at night. During the day, the leaves unfurl in search of sunlight. They have colorful orchid-like bracts that seem like flowers, but the genuine flower is small and grows in the plant's bract.
6. Jade Vine
Scientific Name: Strongylodon macrobotrys
Jade vine or emerald vine is a member of the legume family, Fabaceae. It is a woody creeping plant endemic to the tropical forests of the Philippines. It is a perennial plant and typically grows up to 18 meters long.
It develops a dangling, 3-meter long inflorescence which is enchanting to look at. It has a color similar to jade stone, hence its name. It is usually neon blue-green, mint-green, or turquoise in color. Each flower is shaped like a closed-wing butterfly, adding glamor to the plant. At night, it shows the luminous quality to be easily seen by nocturnal bats that typically pollinate it.
7. White Bat Flower
Scientific name: Tacca integrifolia
The white bat flower, also called white bat plants, giant bat flowers, and the cat whiskers plant, is a perennial, shade-loving member of the yam family Dioscoreaceae. It can grow between 2 to 3 feet in height. It has shiny, elliptical leaves marked with recessed vein tracks.
Its flowers are borne on tall stalks in purple clusters, with long whisker-like trailing filaments. Above the flowers, there are two showy, white bracts that resemble bat-in-flight, hence its name. It usually blooms during spring and summer. It is native to the hilly region of Central Asia.
Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic plants endemic to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The species of this genus have no visible leaves, stems, and roots. Their only apparent feature is a five-petaled red flower. Rafflessias develop a flower that is known as the largest individual flower in the world. The flower can be measured up to three feet long, depending on the species. Among all species, Rafflesia arnoldii produces the largest flower.
They have the nickname “corpse lily” due to their corpse-like odor. The odor attracts flies and beetles that pollinate their flowers. They do not produce food through photosynthesis, instead, they get their nutrients and water from Tetrastigma, their host.
9. Sugar Maple
Scientific name: Acer saccharum
The sugar maple is a flowering tree that belongs to the lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to the United States and Canada. It can grow up to 150 meters in height. It is known for its sweet sap which is used to make maple syrup. It has a dense crown, usually oval or round. The leaves have multiple lobes with serrated margins. In the fall season, its deep green foliages turn to a wide range of colors, from copper to yellow and from gold to scarlet.
The yellow-green flowers are attached in a long stalk and droop at the end of branches. They produce a type of fruit which is called samaras. Samaras are enclosed seeds in a thin, dry, capsule that has winglike projections. When the fruits fall, they spin, giving them nicknames helicopters or whirlybirds.
10. Lady's Eardrop or Fuchsia
There are more than 100 species of lady's eardrop that scientists have named and described. They fall in the genus Fuchsia in the evening primrose family Onagraceae. Most of them are naturally found in North and South America, but some species live in some Pacific island countries. The members of this genus are mostly woody shrubs or small trees. Their height varies according to the species but may vary from 8 inches to 13 feet tall. Their leaves are opposite, lanceolate, often with a whole or serrated margin.
The flowers are tiny, prominent, and bell-shaped, with four sepals and four petals that range in color from white to red, orange, or mauve. In subtropical countries, they bloom in summer and spring. In tropical countries, these flowers can be seen all year round. They attract hummingbirds that typically pollinate these plants.
Sources of Information:
- Bleeding Heart — Enchanted Gardens
- Interesting Facts About Bleeding Hearts | Just Fun Facts
- White Bat Flower - Plants Rescue
- 39 Varieties of Calatheas - Ohio Tropics
- Plant profile: Calatheas - Stamen and Stem Blog
- Lithops or Living Stones - The Succulent Eclectic
- Lithops: Description & Facts - Britannica
- Species of the Week: Rainbow Eucalyptus - One Earth
- Rainbow Eucalyptus: The Philippine Most Bizarre Tree - Treeographer
- Jade Vine - Lotuswei
- Jade vine - Eden Project
- Fuchsia, a Plant Genus - Britannica
- Fuchsia Facts - Soft Schools
- Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) - North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Eric Caunca