Special Report

35 of the Weirdest Plants on Earth

26. Rootless duckweed
> Scientific name: Wolffia arrhiza
> Main habitat: Native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia

The rootless duckweed holds the distinction as the world’s smallest plant with flowers, at about 1/32nd of an inch. The rootless duckweed can be found in ponds and other water sources. The rootless plant is apparently tasty, and scientists at the University of Jena in Germany believe it can be a potential source of protein, according to a story in Science Daily.

27. Golf ball
> Scientific name: Mammillaria herrerae
> Main habitat: Mexico

The golf ball plant is found in the mountains of central Mexico, and at first glance, the white-colored cactus plant looks a lot like an actual golf ball, albeit one that landed far from its intended target. The spiny characteristics of the plant help shield it from the sun. The plant sprouts pink flowers and is a favorite among seekers of rare plant specimens. Because of its appeal, and because of encroaching housing development, the golf ball plant is considered critically endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.

Source: scott.zona on Flickr / Wikimedia Commons

28. Japanese umbrella pine
> Scientific name: Sciadopitys verticillata
> Main habitat: Japan

The Japanese umbrella pine is one of the world’s oldest plants — its fossil history goes back 230 million years. It is an unusual tree in that it has no closely related species. The plant is indigenous to Japan and is grown as a decorative plant for gardens. The conifer is rare and highly prized. It can take up to 100 years to reach a mature height of 30 feet. The Japanese umbrella pine is considered a sacred tree in Japan and is closely associated with the Buddhist faith.

Source: Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury / Wikimedia Commons

29. Jellyfish tree
> Scientific name: Medusagyne oppositifolia
> Main habitat: Seychelles island of Mahe

The jellyfish tree gets its name from the shape of its fruit, which resembles a jellyfish when the fruit is broken open. Scientists thought the tree was extinct and no specimen was observed in its native Seychelles until it was rediscovered in 1970. It is a rare plant, and as of 2016, there were fewer than 100 jellyfish trees remaining. The IUCN considers the plant critically endangered because it is threatened by human activity.

Source: Dick Culbert / Wikimedia Commons

30. Monkey face orchid
> Scientific name: Dracula simia
> Main habitat: Southeastern Ecuador and Peru

The center of this exotic flower looks strikingly like our simian relatives, so the scientific name of Dracula simia is appropriate. Adding to the effect is the elongated petals of the plant. The plant’s aroma suggests oranges when it blooms, which can occur during any season. The monkey face orchid can be found at higher altitudes in Ecuador and Peru.

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