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Friday, October 22, 2010

Bizarre Botanicals: Book Review and Giveaway

Someone asked me if I would be getting rid of my Stapelia since it has now bloomed, and I finally got to smell the flower to prove to myself that it really does smell like dead, rotting meat.

Oh, gosh, no. I am not getting rid of the Stapelia. It’s a passalong plant. You can’t just march into the plant section of your local big box store and find one of these for sale. You’ve got to find someone who has one, drop a few hints about how interesting and fun it must be to grow, and then maybe they’ll give you a start from theirs.

Plus, Stapelia is included in the newly published book, Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross (Timber Press $24.95).

Want to know how many other plants I have that are in Bizarre Botanicals?

Well, I think my cactus is included, or at least it is pretty close to what they call a Tarantula Cactus, Cleistocactus winteri.
I’ve had this cactus for years. It just keeps growing, and growing, and growing. Each section coming up out of the pot does look like a gigantic tarantula leg.

The authors also mention voodoo lily, Amorphophallus bulbifer, in Bizarre Botanicals, which I do NOT have, but I have heard of it. Like the Stapelia, it is also supposed to smell like rotting meat when it blooms. Since I don’t have one, I can’t vouch for this myself but my aunt said my great grandfather had one and he had to plant it out back behind the barn because it did smell bad when it bloomed. (One wonders if I inherited this penchant for growing oddly smelling flowers?)

Fortunately, Bizarre Botanicals includes information on other plants that don’t remind you of dead meat or huge spiders. The authors included interesting looking flowers like passionflower, gloriosa lily, and cockscomb, to name a few.

Browsing through this book, I was impressed with the diversity of plants chosen and some of the bizarre features of them, be it the flowers, thorns, leaves or the excellent impressions of animals that some plants do.

The authors encourage us all to try growing one or many of these bizarre botanicals by providing cultural information for each plant, including a difficulty rating of 1 – 3. The Stapelia is a 2, by the way.

Through a fortunate-for-you mix up, I received two review copies of Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross, so I’m giving one away to a lucky winner. To enter, just leave a comment by Monday, October 25, 2010, 9:00 pm EDT telling me about an interesting or bizarre plant that you are growing or would like to grow. I’ll choose one lucky winner by random drawing.

(Details: Enter by Monday, October 25, 2010, 9:00 pm EDT. Winner will be chosen by random drawing. US residents only, 18 and over. Make sure your comment will either lead me to your blog where I can easily find your email address to notify you if you are the winner, or leave your address in the comments, disguising it of course, along the lines of email AT gmail Dot com.)

(Update, Monday, October 25 - The lucky winner is "Sarah", the ninth commenter on this post. Congrats, Sarah. I just sent you an email to let you know.)

36 comments:

mr_subjunctive said...

My strangest plant could be Leuchtenbergia principis. There's a lot of competition for the title, but this particular plant is a cactus that looks like an Agave with frayed leaf tips. It's incredibly slow growing, but doesn't seem to be especially difficult, so I'm hoping I can keep it alive long enough to see it grow a trunk.

mrsubj55uncti5ve@aol.co5m (without the 5s)

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

I just went out and made a carnivorous plant terrarium. Given I always thought of said plants and their glass enclosures as being a bit period 70s and something of a phase one went through, like permed hair, I think this is a big step forward for me.

Ficurinia said...

I happily grow many voodoo lilies in my garden! They smell absolutely horrible but my neighbors don't care! Each year when they stink, we all stare at them in wonder. Their velvety sheen is amazing.

A few years ago I offered some for sale on Craigslist. A man contacted me and said he wanted them all. When he arrived, he asked me about my last name. Turns out he was my cousin I'd only recently been told about since he'd been given away for adoption at birth. He adores the plant as well and that made us both laugh a lot during a rough moment together.

debbie said...

I have always wanted a venus flytrap.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Carol said...

I have passion vines here. Perhaps not so unique in the south but I live in Zone 5 and they're not suppose to winter over here. I planted mine in a sheltered spot close to the foundation and mulch them very heavy and they have come back every year for 8 years now. I love them even if the grow everywhere and need lot of trimming to keep under control. But it's worth it to see those unique blooms.

Leslie said...

I apparently have or have had several strange plants. I've grown Venus Flytrap and have a passiflora. I also have lithops or 'living stones'. But I would (hint) like to try the stapelia.

Greensparrow said...

I have a stapelia that I grew from seed! That, I think, had better earn me some Garden Geek points.
Other strange plants... well, I've grown sensitive plant, which is always fun, and next year I am planning to try growing squirting cucumber! Little fruits that fly through the air squirting goo! What could be better?

Terri said...

I didn't plant it, it somehow grew in my garden and it wasn't native to the area I was living either. I found out it was Loco Weed. Dangerous stuff, you know I got rid of that ASAP before any of the kids got hold of it.

Sarah said...

I had a 12+ year old, beautiful pencil cactus that was about six feet tall and I used it as a Christmas tree. It froze to death on the sun porch a couple of years ago and I would like to get another one.

kendra22 said...

I would love to try any of what was mentioned in these posts !!! whatever I can grow in colorado, I love plants and ones of the unusual ! thanks for the opp
kendraco22@yahoo.com

Christine Guth said...

I have a Stapelia that first bloomed when my son was a toddler. I smelled this awful smell and thought he needed a diaper change. But no! it was just that the Stapelia flower had opened. I got a start of this plant at least 30 years ago when I worked as a maid at a retirement home. One of the residents was getting rid of it. I have kept it going ever since.

I have about a hundred houseplant succulents which are all pretty odd. One favorite is Haworthia limifolia. One I would like to get is Haworthia truncata. I never saw a Haworthia I did not like.

Anonymous said...

i love the voodoo lily. my sister has a few, and im droppng hints to get one. they do smell awful though. you can reach me at shitstarter05 at yahoo dot com ;)

Anonymous said...

Crassula has some really interesting and odd looking species. I have one, similar to string of buttons, but larger, that I have in a hanging pot with a face (I got the pot at a street fair in the early seventies). The way the crassula grows up, then down, then up again, it looks like Medusa has done her hair in a flip.

I also have a voodoo lily, but it's an Araesama. It looks like a maroon striped jack in the pulpit.

Deirdre- sillakimATaolDot come

Amber said...

I would love to grow a Rafflesia!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

BowieTip said...

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula).

xxbowietipxx@gmail.com

Rainforest Gardener said...

I actually just did a whole post on strange plants!

http://www.therainforestgarden.com/2010/10/extremely-unusual-plants-at.html

By the way, my carrion flower just finished blooming, and it wasn't stinky until I was forced to take pictures of birds while crouched on the ground next to it. Worth it!

I special ordered this book and it hasn't come in yet, so maybe I can avoid having to buy it!

meemsnyc said...

That cactus looks like such a cool plant!

donnawilliamson2002@earthlink.net said...

Please don't forget Asclepias physocarpa - we call it Hairy Monkey Balls - a fabulous butterfly magnet that stops people in their tracks!

rah267 said...

I have always wanted to try to raise a venus fly trap or something like it.

Marsha Neal Studio (Marsha's Garden Blog, Marsha Minutella) said...

How cool! I love how inspirational bizarre plants are (bizarre looking and smelling…). I would love to be able to have a bog garden with a bunch of pitcher plants and such… terrarium style!

Aisling said...

I once had a Venus Flytrap, but that's about as exotic as I've gotten. My son, however, has quite a collection, including some Lithops. He'd be thrilled if I won this book for him.

Anonymous said...

I would like to grow a Bird of Paradise!

theyyyguy@yahoo.com

msvickik said...

I have a werid looking plant that I've managed to keep alive for over 10 years now. It has bright red flowers and it looks likr it's growing out of an onion, but the funny thing is I have no idea what it is. Maybe this book could tell me!

beckytag said...

I would love to be growing odd plants. However, it seems I have the best luck at weeds (namely morning glorys and snapdragons). Although snapdragons are just about my favorite, so it's good that they grow like weeds, because I have a habit of killing my flowers in mysterious ways..lol.

beckytag618 at gmail dot com

Commonweeder said...

I don't have any unusual plants growing in the house, but I do have sundews growing down at the edge of our Frog Pond, and in a nearby bog there are pitcher plants. The grandsons always want to visit, although they have never managed to catch them eating any bugs. I am not interested in vile smelling plants, but I do lust after a passionflower.

Amy said...

One of my weird plants voodoo lily. It's never bloomed for me. It's a bulb and starts to go dormant as soon as it comes inside for the winter. I keep hoping it will bloom some day.

That cactus looks really cool. I think my cats would think it was a toy though! :-)

Here's a link to my blog http://getbusygardening.blogspot.com/
and my email is dieg01991 at yahoo dot com (that's a zero not an o)

Amy

Annie in Austin said...

It looks like a cool book, Carol - but I'm not here to enter the giveaway - just to say I'm glad you're keeping the Stapelia ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

PS A weird plant that fascinates me are Lithops... those "living stone" plants. But am afraid that I'd kill it.

FDP 4 Life said...

i do not have a green thumb but i would love to get a Amorphophallus titanum
susansmoaks at gmail dot com

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

I saw a voodoo lily in someone's garden, and yes, it did smell like rotting meat. Yuck. I like your cactus, and the book sounds really good. Please don't enter me in the contest though. I've got too many books including some I'm supposed to review. :))

Bebe said...

My Mom had a night-blooming cereus and we would eagerly await for it to bloom! (A plant that blooms at night!) This looks like a fabulous book and I'd love to win it for her! :)

Deborah Wellenstein said...

I am growing a pencil tree cactus that I've had for several years. We have cut it down some, but at its peak was 15 feet tall!

Anonymous said...

I love big plants that won't likely catch on with the Impatiens & petunia set. The Thai Giant Allocasia is still growing at 8'...

Trythrice At yahoo Dot Com

Rainforest Gardener said...

Oh, I forgot. steve_asbell at yahoo dot com

SuzOH said...

I don't have anything very bizarre at the moment, although some of my orchids can qualify when they bloom.
I'm suzanne dot offner at gmail.com.

Eva said...

I can't think of just one...

Any of my Stapeliad/stapeliad-type plants or perhaps my Kalanchoe beharensis 'Fang'. I named him... Fang. :D

purango said...

I am growing Venus Fly Traps. garrettsambo@aol.com