Is there such a thing as fear of flowers? Floraphobia? When you’re a western expat or traveler spending time in exotic countries, you learn that along with the local people and culture, Mother Nature has new experiences on offer as well. Say, malaria, or sand storms or fascinating floral delights. Let’s talk about those, the flowers.
Growing up in a temperate climate, the flora in my environment included, among others, roses and daisies and tulips and daffodils and irises, all sweet and bright and cheery blooms, wouldn’t you say? Then I started wandering the world and in tropical Ghana I met a flower that was not cheery or sweet or bright. It was the . . . Devil Flower, aka Bat Flower, officially called Tacca Chantrieri. Here’s the story:
Visiting friends have brought me a gift of flowers from their garden, gorgeous perfumy ginger lilies, delicate and white; and, black as sin, a single Devil Flower
It is love at first sight. What a fascinating bloom!
The Devil Flower is big and black. Well, almost black. It is the deepest, darkest aubergine one can imagine. Allow me to describe this bloom.
Two pointy cat’s ears, reach up to the right and left and join at the bottom. From here a third petal droops down, longer and thinner, like a pointed tongue. In the back, unseen if you look at the flower straight on, is another petal drooping down like a tail, slightly smaller than the tongue in front. The petals have many small folds, as if draped from delicate silk. In the center where the petals meet, an arch of seed pods springs up with dramatic flair. With their pointed heads, they resemble little projectiles ready to launch. Also from the flower’s center many thin long black whiskers droop down like a beard.
I put the flower in a wine bottle so the beard has space to hang down undisturbed. For days I watch it, watch the growing projectiles. And it watches me, I swear.
It looks like it is conscious, like it has a brain. It is gorgeous, it is fascinating, it is menacing. It looks ready to take over the world.
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Have you ever come across a fascinating flower or tree, something a little different from the ordinary?