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Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 Creepy Plants That Shouldn't Exist

By David Dietle

From http://www.cracked.com/

article image





We spend a lot of time here at Cracked pointing out horrors of nature that slither on the land and lurch through the sea. But staying under the radar in nature's landscape of nightmares is the twisted carnival of things that grow out of the ground.

Like ...
#10. Bleeding Tooth Fungus
The bleeding tooth fungus looks kind of like a wad of chewing gum that leaks blood like a rejected prop from The Shining.
They're also called the strawberries and cream, the red-juice tooth, and the devil's tooth. Whoever is in charge of naming scary bullshit seems really insistent that this thing looks like a tooth, while mostly skirting over the fact that it freaking sweats blood.

Oh, and they are listed as "inedible," which implies that someone attempted to eat one at some point. On the other hand, the bloodlike substance has anticoagulant and antibacterial properties. It's nature's next penicillin! All you have to do is lick it. Go ahead.

#9. Chinese Black Batflowers

There's a good reason that Batman uses bat imagery to strike terror into the hearts of Gotham's criminals, rather than, say, some kind of shrew. Bats are freakin' scary. For the same reason, nature has decided to use that same mold to make plants that can induce spontaneous bowel movements, with the addition of some tentacles just to be sure, like we have on the Chinese black batflowers.
It is kept as an ornamental plant by gardeners who prefer to cultivate nightmares, and have the balls to live in the presence of a plant that looks like it crawled out of a Bosch painting and wants to plant its young in their head.
Their dangling fruit even looks like bats sleeping upside down, as pictured here ...
... and here ...
Oh, sorry that last one was an actual bat. Though you can't tell the difference until you get to the bottom, by which point it's far too late.

#8. Doll's Eye
At best, this thing looks like the plants you'd find on some hostile alien world. At worst, it looks like eyeballs on bloody stalks, tied together by their stems like the deranged trophy of some serial killer, used to mark the grave of half a dozen victims.

It's called the doll's eye plant, also known by the equally unsettling name "white baneberry." Just in case you were actually thinking of eating this thing, those eyeballs are highly poisonous. Obviously.

#7. Sea Anemone Mushroom/Octopus Stinkhorn

We tend to think that pretty much all fungi came out of God's adolescent goth phase. Sure, some mushrooms look cute and taste good on pizza, but many of them look more like the dog-beast from The Thing and smell like a rotten asshole. For instance, we have the sea anemone mushroom above and the similar-yet-horrifying-in-a-different-way octopus stinkhorn below:
Both are closely related and smell about as pleasant as they look. Would you believe both are from Australia? We weren't surprised either.



We're pretty sure that Australia sits right next to Cthulhu's sunken city of R'Lyeh.
They start out looking like traditional Mario-style 'shrooms, but that's just so they can gain your trust. Once they mature, they "erupt" their red tentacles of smelly horror to attract flies, which then transport their "gleba" to another location to reproduce, which is about the closest thing to the plot of a Lovecraft story that you'll find in reality.


Seriously, Hugh Jackman is cool and all, but fuck Australia.

#6. Devil's Claw
Devil's claws are kind of like those little thistle burs that get stuck to your clothes when you walk through a field, except instead of being tiny, mild annoyances, they look more like some unholy spider beast from some twisted American McGee version of our childhood. They come from Arizona, where they are used by Native Americans to weave baskets and likely as a ward for enemies who are probably smart enough to stay the fuck away from anything that looks like a minefield of headcrabs:
The horrifying seed pods are designed to latch on to the feet of passing animals, which will then transport them to another location before crushing them underfoot and releasing the seeds.
Funny how nature knew people would stomp the shit out of that after finding it on their feet; evolution is kind of intuitive sometimes.

#5.  Porcupine Tomato

The porcupine tomato is one of the crops you'll find growing in Pinhead's vegetable patch after he retires from abstract horror and turns to horticulture. It hails from Madagascar, the island nation that brought us the Hellbeast lemur and Dracula ants, earning it the Cracked.com nickname "Little Australia."


Quick, take a picture of the word "pain." Good job.
Aside from being sharp and poisonous, the porcupine tomato is a potentially invasive species, since it is difficult to kill, even in drought. Among the features you don't want in a poisonous dagger monster, "hard to kill" has to be way up there.

Did we mention that it spreads quickly, and can reach 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide in a relatively short amount of time? What we're saying is that you should be careful stepping out your front door in the morning, because you never know when a toxic, razor-filled hedge may have sprung up in the middle of the night.

#4. Cedar-Apple Rust Fungus
What looks like a piece of rotting fruit giving birth to either a family of worms or a single, tentatcled horror? If you said "cedar-apple rust fungus," then ... well, you probably just read the title of this entry, we guess.
CARF is a fungal infection that attacks, you guessed it, cedar and apple trees. It produces globular fungal balls anywhere from a 1/4 inch to 2 inches in diameter and inflates "spore horns" when the weather gets wet, transforming it into the Koosh ball from hell. Or, if you prefer, gummi Cthulhu.


Or what happens when slugs mate with mac and cheese.

#3. Buddha's Hand
We don't know what kind of Buddha they were thinking of whose hand looks like a writhing ball of giant maggots. It looks more like what Brian Lumley envisions when his wife asks him to pick up a bushel of grapefruit.
Buddha's hand is a citrus fruit popular in China and Japan for its strong fragrance. It fails as a fruit since it's pretty much all zest and no pulp, but it has other uses, such as being a feature in Stephen King's fruit basket centerpiece.

#2. Chinese Fleeceflower

The Chinese use this plant in their traditional medicine for kidney health, strong bones and hair restoration, and as a mild laxative, and it's ... Hey, wait a second ...
OK, weird, it's a root that looks like a little dude. But that's a rare, onetime fluke, right? It's not like that's what this species typically looks like or anything.
OK, now nature is just straight fucking with us. According to traditional Chinese herbalists, these little dirt trolls are a cure-all for everything from high cholesterol to vaginal discharge ...
They also ... um ...

We here at ... uh ...
We don't know. We just don't know.

#1. Various Dick-Shaped Plants
This will make us feel better.

First off, we have the above Peter Popper Red Hot Peppers, and yes, that is a link to Amazon, where you can pick your own peck of pecker peppers.

Then we have the below mushroom, which is actually related to the Cthulhu mushrooms further up the list. It's a common stinkhorn, though its proper name is Phallus impudicus, literally, immodest wang.
Next is the penis cactus, a variation on a Bolivian cactus that breeders have encouraged. That's right, someone actually discovered a mutant variety of cactus that looked like dick and worked to encourage it. Makes that hunt for the boob-shaped watermelon you've been on since you were 15 seem almost noble, doesn't it?

We'll just leave the rest of these here:
Stay classy, nature.

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