From the office and bustling lives in urban centres, it can be easy to forget about the infinite wonders of the natural world.
Sometimes, even in the city, all it takes is an early-morning walk through the park, as birds chirp and the first rays of light permeate the trees, to remind us of our world that is a playground for exploration, made up of curiosities, whether well-known, little-known, or yet to be discovered.
Indeed, it is thanks to those who have dedicated their lives to uncovering the wonders of nature who continue to ignite in us the need to see more of the planet’s riches: here are 15 incredible curiosities that might just tempt you to discover some of your own.
1. Contrary to popular belief, black roses actually do exist in nature, but only grow in Halfeti, a small village in Turkey - and only retain their black colour in the summer months.
2. In Piedmont, Italy grows the Bialbero di Casorzo, meaning ‘the double tree,’ and is a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree.
3. The Peristeria, a Brazilian orchid in danger of extinction, blooms in Easter time. It is said that by sending this flower to someone, you are sending the blessing of the Holy Spirit, though because of its beauty, it has been increasingly removed from its habitat and consequently endangered.
4. Broccoli is actually a flower, and tomatoes are fruits that nutritionists consider to be vegetables. By definition and of course botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems.
5. The Bird of Paradise is an oddly-shaped but nonetheless beautiful shaped plant resembling a colourful tropical bird. Also known as the Crane Flower, it symbolizes freedom, beauty, and magnificence. Fun fact - the plant is a cousin of the banana!
6. The Vigna Caracalla, native to South America, is known interchangeably as either the Corkscrew Vine or the Snail Vine thanks to its curly flowers and resemblance to a hyacinth - only a more tropical, snail-like version.
7. In the same way in which we use crutches and canes for support as we age, trees use their branches in the same way. So, if you have a tree on your property with its branches touching the ground, think twice before giving them a trim.
8. A childhood favourite, hollyhocks are as fun as they are beautiful, and their large flowers can be made into dolls! Cut off a flower, bud and all for the body and skirt, then choose a bud for the head, attach it with a toothpick and draw a face on with pens or markers!
9. The False Dragonhead is also known as the Obedient Plant, since its spike full of flowers will stay in whatever position it is pushed towards. This plant comes from the mint family and is a fast-spreader in the garden, and thus not-so-obedient when planted!
10. Lunaria, the caterpillar of the plant world whose purple flowers transform into silver papery moon-shaped seed pods resembling miniature full moons, can be repurposed as beautiful jewellery or even as play money for children.
11. Snapdragon flowers have little ‘mouths’ who will open and ‘eat’ things when their sides are gently squeezed. When the flower’s sides are released, the mouth closes once again, and are typically only pollinated by bumblebees, as honeybees are not heavy enough to activate the flower’s unique opening design.
12. The Queen of the Andes, whose trunk can be 5 meters tall, is the largest species of bromeliad, and with leaves included can reach 15 meters in height. A single one of these plants typically produces between 8,000 and 20,000 flowers in as little as three months!
13. Whilst most of us have likely encountered trees whose staggering height is awe-inspiring, there are some trees that don’t have a growth ceiling. The towering great granddaddy of them all is the Hyperion, a redwood species that is 379 feet tall! It’s exact location is not specified, due to the fear that increased tourism could disturb its ecosystem.
14. Whilst climbing plants like Virginia creeper and ivy can worsen current damage to your house’s brickwork, if the brickwork is in good condition when you plant the climbers, they will protect it from exposure to the elements.
15. There are over 400 times as many trees on this earth as there are people. A Yale University research study found there to be over 3 trillion trees on the planet - an impressive figure, until followed by the fact that the tree population has dropped by 46% since the start of human civilization.