Ever since the first truly modern botanic garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens of London – more commonly known these days as Kew Gardens – opened in 1759, botanical gardens have sprung up across the world to showcase the planet’s finest plants. We take a look at some of the most fascinating plants in botanical gardens.
The Plant That Tricks Wasps To Reproduce
The Ophrys speculum is rather a sneaky plant. It mimics a female wasp’s body in order to have male wasps come and reproduce with it…
Female wasps are flightless, and so climb on top of plants like damsels in distress, waiting for the male to pick them up and reproduce with them during flight. This makes them an easy target for cunning plants.
Ophrys speculum mimics the female wasp’s appearance. The flower is hairy, with a blue spot on the lip that resembles the reflection of the sky on the wasp’s wings. Furthermore, the floral scent is similar to the mating pheromones of the female wasps, which ensures the male wasps become quickly stimulated.
The Plant That Smells Like a Corpse
Looking somewhat futuristic, the ‘corpse flower’ (Amorphophallus titanum) is so-called for good reason: it smells quite similar to a rotting corpse…
While this might put humans off having one of them in the back garden, the smell actually attracts beetles to pollinate it. The plant contains thousands of little flowers, which release oils while the centre gathers heat. This creates the smell that proves so alluring to beetles.
The Mouldy Smelling Plant That Makes Tea
The Camellia sasanqua, native to Japan, might well look delightful, but its aroma gives off a different side – smelling of musty leaf mould.
An evergreen shrub, its pink flowers are strikingly attractive. Because of this, the plant is often associated with Yuletide and Christmas. But its long history in Japan is more commonly associated with practical cultivation. The leaves are used to make tea, while the seeds or nuts make tea seed oil. Don’t devour too much of this, though, for the tea oil is crazily high in calories.
The Plants That Devour Annoying Insects
This is probably one plant you wouldn’t mind having in the conservatory. Especially if your house tends to become populated by insects.
Pitcher plants, like those found in the Nepenthaceae and Sarraceniaceae families, lure their prey to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf. The rim of the pitcher is slippery, and the insects slide down into the trap. Some carnivorous plants are happy to devour just about anything that comes nearby, from tarantulas to large rats.
The Plants That Feed Hummingbirds
There aren’t many birds quite so elegant as the hummingbird. Quite fittingly, some of the plants they most frequently feed from at the Toronto Botanical Garden are equally as pretty.
The pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, produces brilliant red blossoms that the hummingbird can feast upon. Meanwhile, you might also see the busy little garden guest nibbling on the vibrant tubular flowers of the ‘black and blue’ Salvia guaranitica.