Comedians aren’t the only ones who have a good sense of humor. It turns out, botanists do too! While these aren’t necessarily their scientific names, these flowers and plants are referred to by some pretty out-of-the-box labels. But don’t be too quick to judge these plants by their nicknames. Despite their laughable (and downright rude) titles, many of them are quite beautiful and interesting!
This herbaceous perennial wildflower is unique for many reasons other than just its name. The swamp lousewort is what’s known as a hemiparasite, meaning that in addition to collecting nutrients from the sun through photosynthesis, it also steals resources from nearby plants thanks to underground, connecting roots.
Careful talking about this one in public! Years ago, Native Americans would eat the seeds of a bastard toadflax (also known by the less comedic name, comandra umbellata) and use other parts of the plant to treat colds, canker sores, and eye irritation.
Despite what its name might imply, the last thing this plant resembles is corn. This magnificent plant grows nearly three feet tall and sprouts just one beautiful purple flower at its top, making it a popular decorative plant on farms.
Adder’s Tongue Spearwort
When submerged in water, this aquatic-loving plant’s leaves float to the surface and resemble a water-lily. Though now a beloved water plant, adder’s tongue is relatively young, especially when compared to flowers like roses and daisies. It was first described by Dominique Villars in Histoire des Plantes de Dauphiné, which was published in 1789.
This aquatic carnivorous plant can be found almost anywhere water is present, from the United States and Canada to Africa and Asia. Grown primarily in lakes and canals, this flower is about as gruesome as its name implies. To get its nutrients, a humped bladderwort captures small prey in its bladder and digests it over time.
Mad Dog Skullcap
This wetland-loving species of plant usually grows near marshes, meadows, lakes, and canals. Recently scientists have been studying its extracts, with a hope of one day using it as a mild sleep sedative.
Known by a variety of names, including Indian poke, Indian hellebore, and green false hellebore, this plant is extremely toxic. Just a few false hellebore plants have the power to kill an entire garden or farm, as well as livestock if ingested.
Most often found emerging from desert grasslands and canyons, this pea-like flower changes color depending on its age. When they first bloom, they’re a bluish purple color. As they get older, they begin to appear red or tan.
Native to Eurasia, the spiny-leaved sow-thistle enjoys living in highly trafficked areas, like parks and pastures. Even though it’s considered a weed of many crops, it rarely has the chance to invade a farm because livestock find it to be quite tasty. Closely related to wild lettuce, it is possible for humans to eat the young weed as well — though we’d suggest against it!
At nearly four feet tall, this fast-growing perennial may be a weed, but its lovely purple flowers may make you think twice about grabbing the weed killer. At a single time, as many as 40 small, purple flowers can bloom on one side of its long, green stem.