Updated: Oct 31, 2019
While pumpkins get all the glory during Halloween, other plants also fit the spirit of the season too. With way scarier names and attributes, these plants deserve a moment in the spotlight. Don't be frightened!
Devil's Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)
This shrub features stocky, sharp spines up and down its stems, branches, and stalks. Proceed with caution if you encounter this deciduous fiend. A plant made for the devil or created to keep the devil at bay; it's hard to say. Either way, it easily earns its place in the realm of scary plants. As the Devil's Walking Stick ages, it loses some of its spikiness, so if you are lucky, you'll encounter a mature specimen and not get inadvertently stabbed.
Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Besides its spooky name, Witch-hazel also looks like something out of a scary book. The flower petals are long and delicate, reaching out like a dozen spindly yellow fingers from the deep maroon center. Witch-hazel gets its name from an Old English word for pliable and doesn't have any association with witches at all. However, if you see a bunch of spooky bright yellow bony digits reaching out for you, remember, we warned you!
Celosia (Celosia cristata)
While this flower doesn't have a scary name at all, it sure looks like something that came from a weird and wacky place. The flowers form thick, dense crested waves that look eerily like a human brain. The flowers can be tannish-yellow or deep maroon-like red so they’re beautiful and freaky, all at the same time. If you run into any zombies, distracting them with this look-a-like may keep them away from your delicate cerebrum! Whether to keep the zombies away or just for decoration, Celosia is the perfect flower to display on the dining table during Halloween.
Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata)
Named for its urn-shaped center, the Urn plant is only scary in its title. A bromeliad, the urn part of the plant needs to be filled with water at all times so it doesn't dry out. The Urn plant is a popular and easy to grow houseplant with brilliant pink bracts that appear after the plant matures, usually around three years old. In keeping with its common name, however, like most plants of this type, after a long flowering period, it will die. The real question is, will you need an urn for your Urn plant? Not so! Keep an eye out for offsets (pups) around the base of the mature plant and re-pot them to keep them alive.
Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana)
Another plant with a scary name, the Spider Flower is known for its stunning appearance and musky, spicy scent. The flowers develop long, thread-like stamens that resemble spider legs and grow in a variety of bright colors. This flower stands out in the garden with its unique display. However, it isn't all charming and delightful. The ribs on the undersides of the leaves have little prickly spines, and at the joint of each leaf, there is a small thorny protrusion. If you're not paying attention, this beautiful flower can jab you.
Yellow Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia flava)
The name is innocuous enough, but this plant is no innocent bystander. Indeed, it is a straight-up carnivore. The name originates from the pitcher-shaped flowers that grow tall and erect. Brilliantly colored flowers and sweetly scented nectar attract a broad array of insects. The bugs land on the slippery insides of the flower, become paralyzed by the nectar, and slide down into the bottom of the flower tube where they are digested by the liquid enzymes at the bottom. The Pitcher Plant absorbs and thrives on the nutrients from the dead insect's bodies. This is one scary plant, especially if you are a small, nectar-seeking insect!
Blog by Jenny Dunklee, Senior Plant Expert, BloomCatch