Weird plant project - for middle school or high school
Benjamin Blonder (

In this project, you and a partner will work together to prepare a presentation on a weird plant of your choice. On the next page is a list of weird plants you can choose from. If the plant you choose has only one name (like Amborella) then the name represents a genus. You can either choose to talk about any species within the genus (each will be weird) or more generally about the genus as a whole.


Your project should answer eight questions: the five underlined questions, and three additional questions chosen from this list.


1.     What is its Latin name? What family, genus and species is it?

2.     What does it look like? How big is it, what colors does it show, what anatomical parts does it have? In addition to a description, you need to show us a visual: either a photograph from the internet, or a drawing of your own.

3.     What part of the world does it live in?

4.     What kind of habitat does it need?

5.     What makes it weird? This should be your longest answer.

6.     What are its common or native names?

7.     Do people use it? How?

8.     Is it threatened or endangered? If so, why?

9.     How does it reproduce?

10.  How do you think it is adapted to its environment?


You should answer these questions on a poster about your plant. You should also prepare a 5-minute presentation to the class about your plant. The presentation should have no more than ten slides and must include a photograph of your plant.


Remember to cite all your sources in APA style in a bibliography! Use to help you.


We will grade you on 1) the quality of your research, 2) the clarity of your writing and 3) how enthusiastic you are about your plant during your presentation. You and your partner will receive the same grade!



There are many resources available to help you learn more about your plants:

-       Google will often return useful search results from university plant resource guides if you add site:edu to your search - for example, search for site:edu "Sarracenia alata"

-       Wikipedia will often have good pages on your genus or even your particular species

-       Encyclopedia of Life ( has good resources on the names, adaptations, and reproductive methods of plants

-       IUCN Red List ( has information on if species are threatened or endangered

-       CalPhotos ( and Forestry Images ( have good photographs of many plants

-       YouTube will have videos of many especially weird plants (for example see for a whole 13 minute special on Sarracenia alata)

-       USDA Plants ( will have habitat information for some plants, but also has good links to other sites if you scroll down to the bottom of your plant's page.





Adansonia digitata

tree with water storing stem (baobab)

Aldrovanda vesiculosa

carnivorous, can move

Allotropa virgata

feeds on mushrooms


evolutionarily old, only one species in genus

Amorphophallus titanum

giant stinky flower

Ananas comosus


Angraecum sesquipedale

darwin's moth

Aponogeton madagascariensis

transparent underwater - holes in the leaves

Arachis hypogaea

because fruits grow underground

Araucaria araucana

monkey puzzle tree; weird

Argyroxiphium sandwicense

Hawaiian silversword

Ariocarpus fissuratus

living rock

Aristolochia californica

traps insects


ant pollinated

Azolla plant and Anabaena cyanobacterium

bacteria help plant get nitrogen

Begonia pavonina

iridescent leaves

Boschniakia hookerii


Brocchinia reducta

sucks insects in

Bursera microphylla

looks like elephant

Ceibas trichistandra

giant roots, food uses

Codariocalyx motorius

leaves track the sun

Codiaeum variegatum

weird colors

Colophospermum mopane

leaves move in sun

Corralorrhiza striata

no chlorophyll


bee trapping flowers

Corypha umbraculifera

very tall, giant inflorescences


parasitic, strangles other plants & finds them by smell

Cyanea leptostegia

Dr. Seuss-looking

Darlingtonia californica


Dendrophylax lindenii

ghost orchid

Dionea muscipula

Venus fly trap; carnivorous, moves


buzz pollinated


mimics wasp

Drosera rotundifolia

sticky to kill insects

Echinopsis chilensis and Tristerix aphyllus

stems punch through cacti, as parasite

Equisetum telmateia

weird stems and evolution, has silica

Euphorbia grantii

odd looking succulent

Ficus benghalensis

banyan - multiple new trunks

Fouquieria columnaris

dr seuss looking

Frasera speciosa

life cycle monocarpic, cool leaves

Genlisea margaretae

carnivorous, small genome

Gingko biloba

evolutionary relic, cool leaves/seeds

Gnetum gnemon

herbal usage, weird evolution

Helicodiceros muscivorus

dead horse - can temp regulate


looks like a mushroom but isn't

Heracleum mantegazzianum

makes a sap that burns people

Hippomane mancinella

toxic sap

Hura crepitans

seed pods explode out of tree

Hydnora africana

looks like fungus with teeth

Impatiens capensis

exploding fruit


looks like a rock

Mandragora officinarum

Mandrake (used in magic)


buzz pollinated

Mimosa pudica

touch sensitive

Monotropa hypopitys

no chlorophyll


looks like swiss cheese

Mucuna holtonii

bats can hear it


ants live inside it

Neottia nidus-avis

mushroom symbiosis orchid

Nepenthes rajah

bat toilet


live on water

Ophrys apifera

bee decoy

Ophrys speculum

wasp mimic


prickly pear

Orobanche ramosa

attacks crops

Pedicularis groenlandica

looks like elephant

Pholisma sonorae

looks like mushroom in the desert

Pilostyles thurberi

live inside other plants

Pinguicula macroceras

carnivorous leaves

Pinus aristata

oldest living non-clonal organism

Platystele jungermannioides

super tiny orchid

Puya raimondii

gigantic inflorescences

Rafflesia arnoldii

world's largest flower and parasitic

Rhizanthella slateri



aboveground roots

Sarcodes sanguinea

big bright red parasite



Sebertia acuminata

stores metals as bright blue latex

Selaginella lepidophylla

resurrects itself

Sequoia sempervirens


Sequoiadendron giganteum


Silene acaulis

weird alpine cushion

Stapelia gigantea

weird stems

Strelitzia reginae

bird of paradise pollination


flowers have triggers and guns

Symplocarpus foetidus

regulates its temperature


underwater pollen

Tillandsia usneoides

looks like moss but isn't

Urtica dioica

stings you


carnivorous aquatic; “trapdoor”…


weird reproduction

Vaucheria litorea green alga / Elysia chlorotica sea slug

plant lives in animal

Victoria amazonica

huge floating leaf

Welwitschia mirabilis

weirdest desert plant ever

Wollemia nobilis

endangered weirdo pine


smallest flowering plant


underwater pollen