While most associate Halloween with the ever-grinning smile of a carved pumpkin, there are countless of truly hair-raising plants and flowers that grow wild in the natural world that most of us have never had the chance to observe in person. In fact, it’s Mother Nature who has herself created these frightening floral species, giving us a darker take on the beauty that is her creation. And while at Nearly Natural we intricately design some of Mother Nature's most beautiful floral with artificial plants, fake trees, and silk flowers, today in honor of Halloween, we’re sharing some of the spookiest and creepiest (living) plants in the natural world that could easily haunt a child’s nightmares.
Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata)
Set on delicate stems with intricately thin petals, these red spider lily flower are renowned for their vivid, visceral color; that being said, we wouldn’t be surprised for a field to appear in a Guillermo del Toro film, where an innocent victim must make her final ascent to her death through a blood-like field of flowers. No surprise that deathly-inspired legends follow this flower; Buddhists used this flower to pay homage to the dead and according to the Lotus Sutra, it is this flower that grows in hell, guiding the dead towards their next reincarnation.
Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
Despite its haggard appearance, the bat flower is actually a type of orchid; however, with its whisker-like strands and ear-like petals, this delicate flower has less of an alluring silhouette than those of its distant relatives. Although this could be due to its “darker side” with unusual black flowers when in bloom, it could also be that it resembles a flying bat with a wingspan of twelve inches. Dark and death-like, we won’t be surprised to see Dracula gifting a bouquet of these to his next victim.
Hooker’s Lips (Psychotria elata)
If you’re ready to receive the kiss of death, make sure that it’s by the Hooker’s Lips! Also referred to as hot lips, one would think that this distinct looking plant would be a great addition for a corpse’ bride bouquet. Although perfectly poised for pollinators, these perfectly puckered lips are only kissable for a short while before they spread to reveal a less inviting pout. Undoubtedly the most (un)kissable plant after all.
Snapdragon Seed Pod (Antirrhinum)
If you’re looking to induce nightmares, why not accent your nightstand with a few snapdragon flowers. While these might sound beautiful, it’s the dried seed pods that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Mimicking tiny, minuscule skulls with shrunken, face-like features, they go to show how truly strange - yet beautiful - Mother Nature can be. And while their appearance might not be something you want to fall asleep next to, legends say that women who would feast on these pods could regain their lost beauty and youth. Should you see Frankenstein harvesting them for their powers and get instant results - please do let us know!
Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica)
Should you feel yourself lost and in a field of red-blood grass, worry not that it’s your worst nightmare - it’s just Japanese Blood Grass! While this unnervingly colored blade-like grass isn't necessarily poisonous or dangerous to touch, it is in fact considered one of the most problematic weeds in the world. Worry not that you’ll randomly find yourself amidst a field of it as it’s so invasive; no wonder that its limited to certain parts of the US and requires a permit for transport - nightmares included!
Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)
If flowers could be raised from the dead then they would surely look something like the Monotropa uniflora, the Ghost Plant! For lack of chlorophyll (the chemical that flora absorbs from the sun to make energy), this ghostly plant is actually a parasite, feasting on neighboring (hosting) trees. Bearing a single, head-bent flower at the tip of its stem with translucent petals, don’t be surprised to find it growing within the darkest parts of the forest - or your M.Night Shyamalan inspired-nightmares at that! - as this wraithlike species requires very little light to grow.
Strangleweed (part of the Cuscuta species)
Synonymous with its name, Strangleweed is recognizable by its thinly gold, web-like trail of vines. A parasitic plant, it’s no surprise that it thrives by feasting on neighboring plants by inserting itself onto its host and drawing food from it to survive. Also known as witch’s hair, devil’s ringlets, wizard’s net, hellbine, and even the devil’s guts, we can assure you it's one trap we hope never to get caught in - fearing what it’s already consumed!
Devil’s Helmet (belonging to the Aconitum genus)
Although not particularly unpretty, the Devil’s Helmet makes our list for the fact that it’s one of the most poisonous plants in the natural world. While its ornamental-like beauty is often found and displayed in home gardens, even a small drop of its deadly poison (if absorbed or even handled) can slow the heart. And while it is also referred to as wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, and women’s bane, the fact that it’s purple-hued petals show a hint of royalty make it no surprise that its reigning title is Queen of all Poisons. Perfectly fitting wouldn’t you agree?
Doll’s Eye (Actaea pachypoda)
Should you wake up to a nightmare of glistening white, wandering eyes worry not as it’s just a collection of Doll’s Eye berries; mimicking a Stephen King-like appearance, these unnerving berries grow from blood-red stems and each is pierced with a single black mark that closely resembles a blankless, staring eye. Considered incredibly toxic to both humans and animals, this plant can cause serious hallucinations if ingested and even react blister-like boils to appear when encountered by touch. Incredibly dangerous and still growing rampant in eastern and northern America, make sure to keep your eyes peeled as wherever they reside, they’re most certainly watching you.
Deadly Nightshade (Atora belladonna)
With a name fit for a horror film, the Deadly Nightshade is a perennial plant and although closely related to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and chili peppers, this is one plant you wouldn’t want to feast upon. Throughout history it has played many vital roles for medicine (anesthetic for surgery), cosmetic (pupil dilation to appear more seductive), even poison (it was suspected to be the poison that Agrippina the Younger produced to assassinate her husband, Roman Emperor Claudius). While its genus name translates to “beautiful woman” it’s no surprise that this femme fatale is one of the most toxic plants in Eastern Hemisphere. Goes to show, never underestimate a woman’s beauty which can be undoubtedly deadly to all those who admire her.
Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)
Taking the title of reigning freak show is the Corpse Flower. Blooming only once every five to ten years in an unpredictable phenomenon, it's no surprise that its carrion flowers carry a foul-stench that resembles that of rotting flesh when in full bloom in order to attract scavenging pollinators like flies and carrion beetles. While its flowers (in bloom) only last a few hours, its foul smell can be picked up to a mile away, with its deep burgundy hues luring in carnivorous insects to their doom. And while smells might not be the main thing nightmares are made of, the idea of a rotting corpse (flower) can instill the same sense of fright.