Here is a chance to explore the unearthly super powers of some of the plant species in the plant kingdom. Some plants are capable of identifying who their family members are among individuals of the same species by exuding chemicals from their roots. They are also able to choose to act selflessly by sharing available nutrients with their relatives. It ranges from reaching incredible sizes and then releasing their seeds with enormous force, to even eating small animals and surviving fires. Here are some unusual abilities of 10 species of plants that will leave you spellbound.
#1. Corpse Flower
The giant in the flower family is known by the name ‘Titan arum’. It can grow its flower to a height of 9.8 feet above the ground. The unpredictable flowering, which can happen in any season, holds headlines whenever it blooms. While a few of these plants can be found in big botanical gardens, ‘Titan arum’ is mostly found in the rain forests of Sumatra. It has attracted a lot of attention with its size and height. (source)
#2. Sandbox Tree
Known as ‘Hura Crepitans’, sandbox tree is known for exploding its fruit with seeds. For self defense, this tree uses its trunk, which looks unearthly, as huge conical spikes. The flowers this tree offers look just like pumpkins, which open into segments with a loud explosive sound. It could throw the seeds up to 46 feet away from the tree. This tropical tree is native to the regions of North and South America. It is an evergreen member of the spurge family. (source)
3. Corpse Lily
Known as ‘Rafflesia arnoldii’, the Corpse Lily’s superpower is growing on the roots of its host. Reaching up to 3.2 feet in diameter, it is the largest known individual flower on the planet. It is a parasite which does not have leaves or roots of its own and grows on the woody stems of its hosts. Its repulsive smell is usually compared with that of a decaying meat. The plant also attracts carrion flies who pollinate it. It’s strong and unpleasant odor of decaying meat earns it the nickname “corpse flower” but the bloom only lasts for approximately three to four days. After that, it collapses into what rain forest photographer Thomas Marent describes as a “slimy black mass”. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles made many expeditions into the forest where he discovered, collected and documented a number of previously unknown plants and animals.
Dr. Joseph Arnold accompanied him on one exploration in 1818 and together they discovered an enormous red flower with white spots and a revolting odor. A single flower can weigh up to 25 pounds (11 kilograms) and hold several gallons (liters) of nectar in a central cavern surrounded by five petals. It relies on carrion-eating flies and beetles for pollination. The flowers are single sex and must be cross-pollinated to produce seeds. The challenge is that the female flowers are rare and don’t often bloom in the same area or at the same time as the male flowers.This prevents the species from growing to large numbers, as it is its own enemy. These plants are commonly found in Indonesia naturally. They are seen as preserved specimens in some regional botanical gardens as well.
#4. Sensitive Plant
‘Mimosa pudica’ is highly sensitive to touch. The quirky behavior it shows, by responding to a touch by closing its leaves and drooping, invites a lot of curiosity in the research about diversity in the plant kingdom. This peculiar reaction from this plant was later summarized from some research to be by a quick water release from the cells located on leaflets and leaf stalks. The leaves will normally open up again within a few seconds to a few minutes. Widespread in warm regions, this plant is a native to South and Central America. It is also called humble plant in the pea family. It is commonly grown as a curiosity in greenhouses. The leaves also droop in response to darkness and reopen with daylight. This phenomenon is known as nyctinastic movement. It has small globular pink or mauve flower puffs. (source)
#5. Whistling Thorn
‘Vachellia drepanolobium’ or the whistling thorn whistles to keep the animals away from it. The whistling sound from this acacia tree is produced from the bulbous bases of its thorns. It maintains an unusual friendship with the ants. Both the tree and the ants gain mutual benefits from their companionship. The ants use the hollow bulbs of the thorns as their shelter. They make small holes in those bulbs, and these holes make the whistling sound that keeps the animals away from the plant’s branches and leaves. The whistling tree is indigenous to Africa, South East Asia and Oceania. (source)
#6. Queen Victoria’s Water Lily
‘Victoria amazonica’, known as Queen Victoria’s Water Lily, can hold weight up to 90 lbs. It can grow over 8.2 feet in diameter. This super power is hidden inside its huge and green circular leaves. It can hold a large amount of weight with the air trapped in the ribs of the leaves which allows them to float. Every season, each healthy plant will produce up to four dozen leaves that cover the water’s surface. This prevents any other plants from growing. This lily is native to Bolivia, but is also cultivated in some botanical gardens out of curiosity and rarity. (source)
#7. Tropical Pitcher
‘Nepenthes’, known as ‘Tropical Pitcher’, shows its super power by catching and digesting insects. They have pitcher shaped leaves that serve as passive traps. These leaves serve as passive traps. Insects and other prey are attracted by the nectar secreted from the trap’s lid. The prey then slips from the upper part of the pitcher and falls into a pool of liquid at the bottom. Trapped and caught, the victims drown and gradually get digested by the enzymes of this carnivorous plant. Their modified leaves are known as pitfall traps. Madagascar, Southeast Asia and Australia are the places where this species is commonly found. (source)
Eucalyptus have the special super power to survive fires. Large amounts of highly combustible oils are produced from the leaves of this tree. They also generate a lot of energy while burning. When a forest fire happens or when a log of wood is burned and fire is produced, the eucalyptus uses this fire to spread its seeds. During this time, seeds will get planted into freshly fertilized soil. The trees themselves resist the fire and their burnt trunks actually regenerate instead of being decomposed. There are more than eight hundred species of eucalyptus and most are native to Australia. A very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia. They are also often seen planted in the United States.(source)
#9. Venus Flytrap
This carnivorous plant preys on bugs, birds and even small monkeys. Plants like the ‘Venus Flytrap’ can do much more than that though. Their species can actually count to five, and this is how it was determined. After feeling the presence of an insect, the Venus flytrap evaluates the nutritional intake of the prey, then it counts how many times it is touched. After 5 triggers, the trap closes on the casual visitor. Slowly, it begins the digestion cycle.
The more the prey struggles to escape, the more the enzymes are produced. This discovery is additional evidence that some plants have the ability to calculate.
Then we have our household cabbage. Plants like cabbage can emit a volatile gas, which is like an alert signal to warn others of the impending danger. This gas is similar in smell to freshly cut grass. Some plants not only communicate by using chemicals but also communicate through sounds. Scientists discovered that some other species like corn saplings make clicking noises to respond to them.