by missfootloose on July 9, 2010 · 9 comments

in Africa, exotica, Expat life

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.

* * *

Have you ever come across a fascinating flower or tree, something a little different from the ordinary?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

GutsyWriter July 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

I have never seen a flower like this and would be afraid to receive one. It does seem like the perfect flower for an “Alien” movie though. It would be a great flower to have on a desk to scare you or your kid into getting your homework done.


Boonsong July 9, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Ah, the Devil Flower – Florius Diablus,
big and black – always a favourite.
Great photos. Thanks for this post.

All the best, Boonsong


Madame DeFarge July 11, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Looks completely alien to me. Rather unlike my marigolds!


Walter Knight July 12, 2010 at 8:21 am

That flower looks like science fiction. I will have to use it in one of my books. If looks could kill, that flower would have riddled me with bullets.


Aledys Ver July 15, 2010 at 4:43 am

Wow, scary flower! I believe you when you say that it looks back at you, I’m sure it does! Fascinating!
Great job with the photos, by the way!


cribs July 16, 2010 at 7:14 am

I have never seen a flower like that before. This is the first time that I will see a devil flower. I thought that is just a myth. It looks so scary. I am sure that looks give it the name devils flower.


missfootloose July 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm

@ GutsyWriter: It’s an impressive flower for sure, but if it has the power to make kids do their homework, I’m not sure 😉

@ Boonsong, you must have this one in your neck of the woods?

@ Madame DeFarge, you’re right, not quite a marigold!

@ Walter Knight: You never do know where your creative inspiration might come from!

@ Leone, thanks for the link. A nice photo of the flower there!

@ Aledys Ver. It wasn’t easy taking the pictures because the flower was so dark with no contrasting other colors in it!

@ Cribs, yes, I’m sure it’s aptly named. It is beautiful in a scary way.


maya October 7, 2010 at 11:57 am

For some reason when you mentioned the flower–when visiting my blog–I imagine something red. Wow, it is an amazing plant. Very exotic looking!


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