Plants that eat rats, slimy alien-looking fungi, leaves that dance all by themselves and flowers that smell like the rotting corpse of a horse: all of these wonders of nature are among the most rare, exotic and unusual plant species in the world. Some are astonishingly beautiful despite the foul odors they emit, while others look like they emerged from the mind of a horror writer, but they’re all fascinating examples of the diversity of Earth’s flora.
RAT-EATING PITCHER PLANT (NEPENTHES ATTENBOROUGHII)
Even the most benign of pitcher plants is strange and amazing, but the species discovered in August 2009 may just be the weirdest carnivorous plant yet. It’s believed to be the largest meat-eating plant in the world, and is capable of digesting rats. Scientists found it on Mount Victoria in the Philippines and named it after famed nature broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.
PARACHUTE FLOWER (CEROPEGIA WOODII)
It looks like an artist’s rendering of extraterrestrial flora come to life: a bizarre flower with fused petals and what looks like a hairy lollipop coming out of it. The flower forms a tube lined with small hairs that point downward, so that insects attracted to the plant’s foul smell get trapped inside. The flower doesn’t consume the flies, though — it holds onto them until its hairs wither, and when the insects escape, they’re covered in the flower’s pollen.