Interesting Flower Names

Everyone has heard of daisies, petunias and carnations. But there are many flowers with interesting--and often quite odd--names. Many of these flowers get their names from their appearance, fragrance or uses, such as the bat face cuphea, lamb's ear or sensitivity plant. Folk legends and medicinal uses also contribute to delightful common plant names.

Chinese Houses

Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) is a native California annual wildflower that blooms spring through summer. Its 1-inch-long purple and white flowers are similar to snapdragons and look like Chinese pagodas. The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall and prefers rich soil. It grows in USDA zones 3 to 10.

Naked Ladies

Naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) are South African bulbs that grow happily in USDA zones 7 to 10. In the spring, long, strap-like leaves appear. Months later, in late summer or early fall, the leaves have withered and clusters of pink amaryllis-like flowers appear on 2-foot stalks right out of the ground.

Corpse Flower

The corpse flower (Titan arum) is the world's tallest flower, growing to 10 feet tall and weighing more than 100 lbs. It's also the world's stinkiest flower, emitting a putrid odor of decaying meat that attracts dung beetles, flies and carrion beetles, which pollinate the plant. The corpse flower is native to Indonesia rainforests and is very rare in cultivation.

Shooting Star

The shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a perennial with a host of interesting common names, including Johnny-jump, Indian Chief, American cowslip and Pride-of-Ohio, according to This wildflower grows in masses throughout USDA zones 4 to 8. It has white, pink, lavender or purple blooms from April through June. The blooms have backward petals that make it look like a shooting star. It grows in most any soil, but prefers woodland environments with dappled shade.

Indian Paintbrush

The nectar of the Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) is well-loved by hummingbirds. This wildflower produces leafy brackets of scarlet, orange or yellow, surrounding small flowers. The Indian paintbrush is partially parasitic, according to Easy Wildflowers, because it receives part of its nutrients from roots of surrounding grasses and wildflowers. It grows naturally in glades, prairies, streambanks and moist woodlands in the eastern part of USDA zones 3 to 9.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is a mounded perennial that grows well in shade or part shade. Its pink or white flowers look like hearts with a drop of blood dangling from the bottom. The fern-like leaves wither by mid-summer, but return in early spring. Bleeding heart, which is native to China and Korea, prefers moist, well-drained soil in USDA zones 2 to 9.

Keywords: odd flower names, weird botany, interesting flowers

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.