Odd Plant Names

Many plants have names that seem well suited to their characteristics, however there are a good deal of plants whose names have lost meaning over time, or whose names simply come off as odd. Planting a few strangely named plants is a simple way to bring a little extra whimsy into your home.

Rusty Black-Haw

Rusty black-haw (Viburnum rufidulum) is a strangely named plant native to North America. A large shrub or small tree, rusty black-haw boasts glossy, shiny green leaves accented by clusters of small white flowers and dull bluish-black fruits. The plant's common name comes from the rusty, textured down that appears over new stems and buds. In the fall, the glistening leaves of the plant turn reddish burgundy. The plant can be cultivated in gardens in USDA zones 5 to 9. Excellent as a specimen plant in a woodland garden, rusty black-haw grows best in full sunlight, where it will produce the most foliage and flowers. The plant will also tolerate partial shade, although it will have a looser, less dense habit. Rusty black-haw is fairly drought tolerant and will do just fine in a well drained soil with no supplemental watering.

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) is a low growing, spreading plant native to Southern Mexico. Frequently grown as an indoor plant for a hanging basket or container, wandering Jew may also be grown outdoors as a perennial in USDA zone 11. The sprawling wandering Jew plant gains its common name from a figure from medieval Christian folklore who was cursed to wander the earth. The plant is grown in many climates as a frost-tender annual. Wandering Jew sports unique variegated leaves, which are a shade of creamy white and purple. The plant is suitable for beginners, and does best in a moist, fertile soil. Wandering Jew will tolerate both partial and full sunlight, and should be watered when the soil around the plant is dry.

Bloody Bromeliad

The morbidly named bloody bromeliad (Neoregelia cruenta) is a perennial native of Brazil that reaches an average height of about 3 feet. The plant has stiff, smooth leaves that may be found in a variety of colors, from brownish crimson to yellowish green and yellow tinged with red. The "bloody" added to the plant's name comes from the sometimes brilliant red color that the plant's foliage exhibits.The tropical plant is a popular house plant, though it may also be grown outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11. Bloody bromeliad requires a very well drained soil, along with frequent watering. The plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight when grown indoors, and either dappled shade or nearly complete shade when grown outdoors. The plant is suitable as a bedding or border plant so long as there's a glimmer of shade.

Keywords: odd plants, flower names, odd names

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.