If you like vamping up your house for Halloween by adding various ghoulish touches, have a think about using these plants to help set the mood.
Creepy flora, like Cockscomb and Dracula orchids, give your garden and indoor pots a touch of the macabre.
Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)
Unlike most plants, the ghost plant doesn’t produce it’s energy from sunlight and so doesn’t have chlorophyll . Instead, it’s a parasite, getting it’s sustenance from other plants. Because it doesn’t need sun, it can grow in dark nooks and crannies. It’s rare and difficult to propagate domestically.
Doll’s Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
The Doll’s Eyes plant has globular white fruit with a disconcerting black ‘iris’. This North America perennial, also called white baneberry, is very toxic — ingesting the berries or stems can lead to cardiac arrest and death. However, the berries are harmless to birds, the plant’s primary seed dispersers.
Chinese Lantern Plant (Physalis alkekengi)
Easily identifiable by the delicate, bright-orange papery covering over it’s fruit, the Chinese Lantern plant lends itself well to Halloween decoration, resembling lots of small pumpkins.
As the fruits age throughout the spring, the cover begins to dry out and waste away, leaving behind a skeleton that looks like a spooky cage trapping the berry.
Dracula Orchid (Dracula sergioi)
Dracula orchids, despite their name, actually smell like mushrooms. This helps trick fruit flies that pollinate mushrooms into pollinating them as well.
When Spanish scientists first came across these orchids, they were reminded of dragons and bats. If you look directly down the centre of the flower you can see its piranha-like mouth.
Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
The well-known Venus flytrap is carnivorous, dining on insects that wander into its gaping jaw-like leaves. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap closes if a different hair is contacted within twenty seconds of the first strike.
The carnivorous diet is a very specialized form of feeding and is an adaptation found in several plants from soil poor in nutrients. Their carnivorous traps evolved over time to allow these organisms to survive their harsh environments.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)
These are popular ornamental plants, grown for their clusters of rich yellow flowers which begin to expand in the autumn and continue throughout the winter.
It is thought the use of the plant’s twigs as divining rods by American colonists may have influenced the “witch” part of the name.
Cockscomb (Celosia cristata)
These hardy plants are resistant to most diseases and grow equally well indoors or out. They are frequently used as an ornamental plant indoors, even though they resemble a fuzzy brain…
Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea louisianica)
These plants produce long, hooked seed pods that catch on to the feet of animals. As the animals walk, the pods are crushed open, dispersing the seeds.
Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
In the Middle Ages, Deadly Nightshade was believed to be the devil’s favourite plant. Witches and Sorcerers would use the plant’s juices in many of their ointments and brews. Even though this plant has been used in medicine be sure to stay away, it is so toxic that even touching it can poison you!