Hydnora africana

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

This has to be one of the most fascinating plants that I have read about in a long time. First of all, it looks like an enemy that one might find in a Final Fantasy video game. That said, what can we find out about this interesting and unique plant?





Behavior and Physical Traits


The first thing you will notice about this plant before anything else is its very putrid smell. It smells strongly of feces which is used as a way to attract specific pollinators. The Dung Beetle is one of them. Once the beetle gets inside, the plant closes up and does not release the insect until it is coated enough in pollen to pollinate other plants.


Africana's appearance also looks a bit strange. It only has three pedals with odd fibers on each side that look like teeth. Combine that with the odor and the coloration, and I would not blame you for not wanting to get too close.


Another interesting thing about this plant is that it contains no chlorophyll and does not photosynthesize. Instead, it gets all of the nutrients it needs from its host plant. Yes, this plant is as much of a parasite as it looks, but it is not going to eat your head. No worries.


Distribution and Habitat


I could not find a distribution map for this specific species of parasitic plant, but it does seem to be mainly situated in southern Africa. It often comes up after heavy rains and feeds on the host plant. This means that it can survive in harsh temperatures as well as the tree it is attached to.


It is very interesting to learn more about plants that look like they should be a fungus. With them having a unique set of behaviors and appearances, it will be great to learn more about this plant as new information comes to light.

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