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Share to PinterestWeird Plant Names to Up Your Trivia Skills
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Weird Plant Names to Up Your Trivia Skills

By Max Day
Share to PinterestWeird Plant Names to Up Your Trivia Skills

Plants are often named after unique properties they possess, how they appear, or the region where they originate. If you’ve visited a conservatory or a garden center recently, chances are you noticed a few plants with rather unusual names. Upon discovery, plants are assigned unique common and scientific names. Many plants also have various funny or odd nicknames they’ve picked up throughout history. From trees to flowers and everything in between, here are ten of the weirdest plant names you’ll ever see.


Shaggy soldier

Share to Pinterestclose up of shaggy soldier flowering plant

This plant’s scientific name is Galinsoga quadriradiata but it is also known as hairy galinsoga or Peruvian daisy. Shaggy soldier grows in several places throughout the world but is believed to originate from Mexico. In Hawaii and other regions, shaggy soldier is considered a destructive and invasive plant. It grows fast, producing broad leaves and small, yellow flower heads. Although the plant may not look appetizing, the leaves are edible. Other common names for this plant include quickweed and gallant soldier.


Mother-in-law's tongue

Share to Pinterestindoor potted mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant

You’ve likely seen this plant in waiting rooms or even around the office at work. It doesn’t require much direct sunlight, making it perfect for decorating indoor environments, but pet owners should be aware that mother-in-law's tongue is potentially poisonous to cats and dogs, and can cause harm due to the sharp point at the end of its leaves. Also called Saint George’s sword or snake plant, this evergreen was originally grown in Africa.


Corpse flower

Share to Pinterestcorpse flower blooming at a greenhouse

The corpse flower is among the most unusual plants in the world and owes its name to the noxious odor it produces when it flowers. Drawn to the smell, insects arrive to pollinate during the brief period it blooms. Many will gather to watch this rare event at botanical gardens where the flower is carefully grown. The corpse flower requires strict environmental conditions to thrive, making it next to impossible for the average gardener to manage. The scientific name for corpse flower is Amorphophallus titanium.


Suicide palm

Also called the Tahina palm, this tree created considerable commotion when it was made known to Western botanists in 2007 — the strange plant managed to elude detection from the wider scientific community previously, due to its remote location in Madagascar. The suicide palm flowers only once per century before dying. The energy exerted to produce flowers exhausts the plant, eventually leading to its demise. Its proper name is Tahina spectabilis. In Latin, “spectabilis” translates to “spectacular”.


The tree of death

Share to Pinteresttree of death or manchineel tree

This tree is found throughout areas of North and South America and produces fruit that resembles the crab apple but actually contains a dangerous compound called phorbol. But the horror doesn’t end there. Simply coming in contact with the leaves or stems of this tree can cause adverse skin reactions. It’s believed the infamous Ponce De Leon died from an arrow coated with the sap of this species, also called the manchineel tree.



Share to Pinterestwhite baneberry plant with red stems on leaf background

These perennials produce red, white, or green berries depending on the species, but they are all equally toxic. The word “bane” comes from the Old English ‘bana’ which refers to something responsible for causing death. While consuming a small handful of these berries could prove fatal to most humans, birds consume the berries and come to no harm. Many mammals can eat certain baneberries as well.


Creeping Jenny

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Also called ‘moneywort’, creeping jenny gets its name from the long, fast-spreading tendrils it produces, which create lush ground cover wherever it grows. However, it can easily take over the territory of other nearby plants. For these reasons, gardeners are advised to monitor the plant and trim back growth as needed. The scientific name for this plant is Lysimachia nummularia. Creeping jenny is appreciated for its ability to attract butterflies and for its reported medicinal uses.


Lamb's ear

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This is probably the most accurately named weird plant on the list. Lamb’s ear looks and feels a lot like the real thing. The tiny, soft hairs on the leaves are smooth to the touch, and the plant looks great in the garden. These summer-blooming perennials have historically found use in treating small wounds due to their antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Lamb's ear is regarded as a relatively rugged plant that is excellent at resisting drought conditions.


Money plant

Share to Pinterestpotted money plants or Pachira aquatica in a greenhouse

Everyone knows money doesn't grow on trees. Just tell that to the Taiwanese farmer who discovered the money plant (Pachira aquatica). He allegedly stumbled across the Pachira plant and earned considerable wealth by propagating and selling the plants to others. Today, the money plant is a popular decoration in homes all over the world. Although most people think of money plants as small houseplants, this tree is capable of reaching 60 feet in outdoor environments.


Skunk cabbage

Share to Pinterestblooming skunk cabbage

As the name suggests, skunk cabbage is another stinky plant. This perennial is especially unique due to its ability to produce enough heat to melt surrounding snow when it blooms. The flower achieves this feat through a complex chemical process: thermogenesis. Like the corpse flower, skunk cabbage emits a decidedly unpleasant odor that helps in attracting insects. It's pretty to look at, with calla lily-like blooms, but humans should be wary and keep their pets away. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are fairly toxic.



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