Mimicry is one of nature’s greatest talents, creating a means for mating, feeding, and avoiding certain death where there would otherwise be none, allowing for the continuation of a species over countless ages. While some forms of mimicry serve a very specific purpose in participating in any of the aforementioned activities, there are a handful that really only strike a resemblance to other creatures in our own perception. Take a look at our list of crazy plants and flowers that, whether for survival or just through sheer imagination, resemble animals.
If it weren’t for the obviously visible stem and leaves on this succulent species, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking you’re looking at a starfish. The beautiful Stapelia flavopurpurea hails from the Northern Cape of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana — perfect climates for this subtropical species. The flowers can display bright hues of yellow, orange, red, white, green, and purple when exposed to full sun, and rather than bearing the stench of rotten meat like others in its genus, Stapelia flavopurpurea smells of beeswax, or faintly of licorice to some sensitive olfactory systems.
At first glance, there probably doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary here, just a bee on its daily route collecting pollen…right? Look again! What appears to be a fuzzy flying bee is actually an extension of the Ophrys apifera, more commonly and aptly known as the bee orchid. Although most species of Ophrys apifera are self-pollinators, some of these orchids in the Mediterranean actually attract male Eucera bees by emitting a scent that mimics that of the female. Eucera attempts to mate with the deceptive appendage of the bee orchid, therefore ensuring the continuation of the species.
Impatiens psitticina is often mistaken for an orchid, but the bloom commonly known as the parrot flower grows from a species of balsam endemic to Southeast Asia, including Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, and parts of India. The flower does indeed resemble a parrot in mid-flight, but whether this serves as a benefit to the plant is unclear.
Aristolochia Salvador Platensis
This haunting visage comes from the species Aristolochia salvador platensis, part of a large plant genus of around 500 evergreen and deciduous woody vines that proliferate many diverse ecosystems throughout its native Brazil. Many of the species’ flowers resemble carnivorous pitcher plants, but this particular species displays a morbid image that belies its true mission: the “eye holes” of the bloom actually allow sunlight to filter through, attracting pollinators to light upon it and transport its pollen to other flowers.
Take a good look at that picture and tell us it doesn’t look like a hungry crocodile or alligator in a less-than-desirable pose! Despite its fearsome appearance, Faucaria tigrina is a harmless succulent species from South Africa that grows silky, yellow daisy-like flowers in autumn through early winter.