If imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery, then there are many plants that adore the animal kingdom. Plants that resemble animals like bees, bugs, or other insects are often the result of mimicry, an evolutionary process that helps them survive and reproduce. For example, the individuals of a species that more closely resembled an animal, like a bee, might have been more likely to be pollinated as other bees came in to investigate. Over time, this increased success would amplify the amount of offspring produced by plants showing this trait, resulting in more and more plants that had it. Cool, right?
Other times, the resemblance we see to animals is likely more of a coincidence than a benefit to the plant, but that doesn’t make these species any less fun to enjoy!
1. Monkey Orchid (Dracula simia)
The common name Monkey Orchid comes from the fact that this species produces flowers that resemble the face of a monkey. There are a few varieties and similar species that have this trait, but almost all have very clear spots (the eyes) and a wide, smiling “mouth” below surrounded by petals that complete the illusion.
Another related species, Orchis simia, more closely resembles a little human than a monkey! Each bloom has a small, man shaped petal that grows below the main flower, like a little fairy or imp.
2. Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
Bird of Paraside is a popular plant, and one of many species of plants that look like birds. If you have a hard time visulizing it, imagine the red and green tip of the stem is the head and body of the bird respectively, and the orange and blue petal above are the wings of the bird fluttering wildly. Soon enough, you’ll see nothing but birds everytime you see this plant!
3. Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica)
Have no fear! Although this species, Cobra Lily, looks like a slithery snake it surely isn’t, and it isn’t a lily either. Actually a type of pitcher plant, this species is a carnivorous one that will lure bugs and insects into its traps with a sweet smell, only for them to fall into the plants digestive liquids. Between its looks and its appetite, this species is sure to be a conversation starter!
4. White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata)
This orchid is a unique plant that looks like an animal, with white, feathery flowers in the shape of flying White Egrets. Native to Japan and parts of China, this species is actually at risk of decline across it’s natural range. As a symbol of happiness and love, this species is a great addition to any house, or as a thoughtful gift to a close friend or newly wed couple.
5. Bee Orchid (Ophyrus apifera)
Bee Orchid is aptly named due to the resemblance of the flower to a bee. This is likely an evolutionary trait that is meant to increase pollination of the flowers. This species is a great gift for an orchid lover who needs something unique for their collection, but is not as easy to find as more common orchid species. It can often be bought online as a bulb only, and so you may want to plan ahead and start to grow the plant before you give it as a gift!
6. Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)
This plant species may more closely resemble a human than a wild animal! With literal jaws and a mouth that opens and closes, Venus Fly Trap is a very interesting plant for any enthusiast. Place it in a window sill that suffers from too many house flies, and watch as they are caught up and consumed by your living fly trap!
Whether you are looking to spruce up your plant collection or want the perfect gift for the animal lover on your shopping list, any of these plant species that look like animals are sure to be a pleasant surprise. No matter what species you choose, be sure to take proper care of it for it to reach its full potential and it will surely reward you with many fauna-shapped flowers!