Nature always manages to surprise us, with idiosyncratic growth forms, unique flowers or bizarre fruits. In the following, there are seven plants that are particularly out of the ordinary.
These plants have bizarre fruits
- Bird’s eye bush (Ochna serrulata)
- Buddha’s hand (Citrus medica ‘Digitata’)
- Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus)
- Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
- Nipplefruit (Solanum mammosum)
- Sausage tree (Kigelia africana)
- Water nut (Trapa natans)
Bird’s eye bush
Ochna serrulata is also called “Mickey Mouse Plant” because of its funny fruits. Another name of the bird’s eye bush is carnival ochna. Whatever you call it, its fruits are remarkable in any case: the shiny black berries sit on long red calyx tips like noses in front of big mouse ears. In itself, however, Ochna serrulata is a small shrub that is easy to care for and can be cultivated well in a container on the balcony or terrace or in the winter garden. Especially beautiful are the yellow flowers that appear in large numbers and have an intense fragrance.
Citrus medica ‘Digitata’, a variety of citron, is called Buddha’s Hand because of its bizarre fruits. The plant is native to northeastern India. Its fruits, which actually resemble a hand, taste better than they look and are very aromatic. In China and Japan, it is used as an air freshener or to perfume textiles. The shell is very thick and is offered candied as a candy.
Dragon fruit is the name given to several bizarre fruits that come from different plants, but all belong to the genus Hylocereus. The best known example is the white-fleshed pitahaya (Hylocereus undatus). Another name for the dragon fruit is pitaya or pitahaya. However, the name dragon fruit is clearly more descriptive. The fruits are ovoid, the skin bright yellow, pink or red and decorated with scale-like outgrowths. The flesh is white or deep red and interspersed with black seeds. However, the taste of the exotic vitamin bombs is not remarkable: they taste mildly sour. But beware: excessive consumption has a laxative effect.
Love-in-a-mist, botanically Nigella damascena, belongs to the buttercup family and originates from Central Europe, and is also called ragged lady or devil in the bush. Its odd-looking capsule fruits are about three centimeters (1.2 in) in size and look like inflated balloons. The plant’s blossoms are reminiscent of tiny female figures with wide-spreading skirts. In earlier times, young women presented this flower to spurned suitors to give them a basket.
The names of this plant show that a fruit shape can evoke very specific associations: Solanum mammosum is called cow´s udder, nipple fruit, and titty fruit, among others. The bizarre fruits look as if they were made of plastic and are about the size of pears, which they also resemble in color. The insinuating eye-catcher can be cultivated in a pot on the balcony or terrace.
The sausage tree (Kigelia africana) is widespread throughout Africa and forms fruits up to 60 centimeters (24 in) long that look like oversized sausages. They reach a proud weight of up to nine kilograms (18 lbs). They are used by the locals as a remedy, and serve as food for elephants, giraffes and the like. In temperate regions, you can cultivate this whimsical plant in a tub in the winter garden, but you have to wait more than ten years for the fruits.
If you look at the fruit of the water nut (Trapa natans), you start to wonder: bull’s head? Bat? The nut-like fruits with two to four distinctive thorns leave a lot to the imagination. In Asian countries they are considered delicacies when cooked, but in our latitudes the water nut, which is an annual aquatic plant, is threatened by extinction. In the water garden, however, it is popular as a decorative planting for the garden pond.