6 Australian Plants That Belong in a Sci-Fi Movie

February 1, 2017

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explorer in the outback

We will never be tired of taking pride in our country’s wildlife frankly ridiculous lethality and weirdness. Our flora is often overlooked, however. So we decided to do some research on endemic plants. All from the comfort of our keyboards, of course. The thought of going outside in the sun sends us into a full-on agoraphobic panic. Gary saw me typing “sun” and is currently being taken to the med station. Seeing these alien-looking plants just reinforced the case in our heads. Nature is creepy and should be approached with caution and/or a flamethrower. If at all.

Our gardeners however are fair dinkum brave hearts with degrees in Xeno-botany.

1. Red Kangaroo Paw

Red Kangaroo Paw is quite a common plant, often even grown as a houseplant. It has one of the weirdest flowers though. They are somewhat fuzzy and the name suits their looks perfectly. They’re as much at home on this scorching inhospitable world as they would be on an alien planet.

2. Sturt’s Desert Pea

These arid region wildflowers would be right at home on some desert planet. They are pretty looking but there’s also something unnerving about the aggressive colouration. Like it would grow in freshly diseased animals. Either that or is used by the local nomadic tribes to make a drug that causes your eyeballs to fall out and replaces them with lasers.

3. Burrawang

At first glance, Burrawang looks like a short palm. It’s in fact in the cycad family of plants, which are one of the most ancient plant types on the planet. They typically grow very slowly and age even slower, some species reaching as much as a thousand years of age. What got burrawang a place on this list is its seed cones. Not only do they look like alien brood hatching, but one of the requirements for the plant to start producing seed pods is fire. Yep. That’s right. Australia is so hardcore some of our plants need the opposite of water to develop.

4. Banksia Speciosa

This is the so-called showy banksia, a tree with leaves like band-saw blades. It somehow makes us want to steer clear of it for fear of being grabbed and dragged to its centre for digestion over the course of a season.

Okay, so we are exaggerating for dramatic effect, but in our defence – No tree should have leaves like that! Let’s get back to the supposed Strayan-Plants-Need-Fire-To-Develop debate. Look at that vaguely sinister seed pod to the right. Guess what it needs to open. That’s right. Fire.

We rest our case.

5. Darwinia Meeboldii

The cranbrook bell is a beautiful shrub. Hey, not all sci-fi plants have to be menacing and intimidating. What is particularly curious about the plant is the serpentine way it branches, with small leaves covering the entirety of the stalks. Additionally what you see in the photo are not its real blossoms. Each of these bells hold 8 small flowers inside. How did nature do that?

6. Corybas Fimbriatus

Those immediately remind us of that one scarab scene from The Mummy.  We will not link to it here because it’s gross. This plant is actually from the orchid family. There is nothing elegant about it. These tiny buggers look like they’d feast on your sweet brain meats if you make the mistake to take a nap in their vicinity.

Bonus Round

As much as we want to monopolise the imaginary Having-The-Weirdest-Lifeforms-On-Earth market, we can’t help but give honourable mention to these four as well.

Hydnora Africana

Shai Hulud anyone?


The picture doesn’t really do this giant’s justice. And yet the size is only the second most prominent feature of the rafflesia after its nose hair bleaching smell. If it was a Super Mario power-up, it would give you the ability to projectile vomit.

Albuca Namaquensis

This one is so cutesy. Nothing much to say about it, besides that it would really help a pixie garden look the part.

Red Starfish Fungus

Nope. No. Nah. Nuh-uh. We are done here. This is clearly a baby shoggoth.

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