Plants can be amazing things of beauty. We use them to decorate our yards and homes and even give them as gifts. But have you ever noticed how there are some plants that look like animals? For example, the monkey orchid has a face that looks strikingly like a monkey’s head. Isn’t that amazing?
There are several theories as to why plants may do this. One view is that it’s a form of camouflage. By looking like an animal, the plant is more likely to avoid being eaten by other animals. Another idea is that it’s a way for the plant to attract pollinators. By looking like an animal, the plant is more likely to catch the attention of bees or other insects that can help spread its pollen. Whatever the reasons may be, it’s not hard to appreciate these incredible plants.
1. Monkey Orchids (Dracula simia)
Monkey orchids are native to the highland forests of Ecuador and Peru, and they get their name from their resemblance to monkeys! The flowers of these plants look like monkey faces, which is why they are so unique and interesting. Monkey orchids typically bloom in spring but can also bloom any time of the year when looked after correctly. They can be found in a variety of colors, such as pink or white. You may be able to find them for sale online or if you’re lucky, at your local plant store. Add one to your own home or garden, they will make for a great conversation starter, that’s for sure!
2. Dolphin Succulents (Curio × peregrinus)
Dolphin succulents are native to Africa and can be found in many countries. They typically grow during the summer and thrive in sunny climates. Dolphin succulents are easily recognizable and popular due to their string of blue-green leaves resembling a dolphin’s shape! If you’re interested in growing dolphin succulents yourself, ensure you plant them in well-draining soil and give them plenty of sunlight. With proper care and attention, these plants can thrive indoors or outdoors.
3. White Egret Orchids (Pecteilis radiata)
This beautiful plant can be found in woodlands and forests, most commonly in Asia, and grows best in shady areas. The flowers of the white egret orchid are very delicate and are known to resemble birds, and can grow up to 18 inches tall. They are usually white with a touch of pink or purple and have long, slender petals. The plant specifically gets its name because it looks like a little, white bird (an egret) taking flight. This plant is sold in nurseries and plant stores worldwide, making it easy to add this plant to your own plant collection!
4. Parrot Flowers (Impatiens psittacine)
The beautiful parrot flower is commonly found in Asia, but can also be found in tropical regions worldwide. The parrot flower gets its name from its unique appearance – the flowers of this plant look just like little parrots! They come in a variety of colors, such as pink, purple, red, and green. If you’re interested in growing these flowers, they’re easy to take care of and may be available to purchase from a specialist plant supplier. They prefer shady areas and moist soil, so as long as you keep those conditions in mind, you should have no problem getting them to thrive in your very own backyard.
5. Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera)
The bee orchid is commonly found in Europe and is named so because it looks very similar to a small bumblebee. The flowers of this orchid are usually dark brown or black, with yellow or white markings, hence its bee-like appearance. They grow best in full sun or partial shade and prefer to grow in well-drained soil. When growing bee orchids at home, they can be propagated by seed or purchased as a grown plant from a nursery. They can take a few years to flower, though, and may only bloom once in their lifetime, so patience is vital with these flowers!
6. Flying Duck Orchids (Caleana major)
Flying duck orchids are found in eastern Australia, from Queensland to Tasmania. They get their name from their unique shape, and that the flowers of this plant resemble flying ducks. The plant itself is also quite unusual looking. It is a terrestrial orchid that grows in the ground instead of on trees like many other types of orchids. It has long, thin leaves that grow up to 20 inches tall. They are easy to care for, if you want to grow your own flying duck orchid. These plants prefer shady areas with moist soil, so choose a spot in your garden that meets those requirements. They also need good drainage, so ensure the soil is light enough and compact. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, plant, and water your orchid regularly. With a little bit of love and care, your flying duck orchid will thrive.
7. Rabbit Succulents (Monilaria moniliforme)
The rabbit succulent is native to South Africa and can be found in arid regions. The plant gets its name from its appearance; the leaves look like a rabbit’s ears, and the stem resembles a rabbit’s body. This succulent is easy to grow and does not require much care. It can be propagated by seed or cuttings. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them moist until they germinate. To propagate by cuttings, take a cutting from the main stem and allow it to callous over for a few days before planting it in well-draining soil. Rabbit succulents are drought-tolerant plants and do not need much water. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch, as too much water will cause the roots of this succulent to rot. The rabbit succulent also prefers full sun but it can tolerate some shade.
8. Green Bird Flower (Crotalaria cunninghamii)
Green bird flowers grow wild in Australia, specifically in the eastern states. They usually grow in open woodlands or along roadsides. But don’t worry if you don’t live in Australia – these plants are widely available at nurseries or online to purchase. When they’re in bloom, green bird flowers look a lot like hummingbirds! They have long, slender flowers that are a deep green color. The blooms appear from spring through summer. If you’re interested in growing green bird flowers yourself, you’d be happy to know that they’re a low-maintenance plant. They prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade, and they’re drought-tolerant once established. They’ll also self-seed readily, so you may have more plants than when you started!
9. Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis)
The moth orchid is commonly found in Asia but can be found in tropical climates worldwide. They get their name from their resemblance to a moth with its wings spread open in shape and coloration. The flowers of this plant can be pink, white, purple, or yellow. If you want to grow your own moth orchids, rest assured that they’re generally easy to look after. They prefer warm temperatures and lots of humidity, so a bathroom or kitchen windowsill is often a perfect spot for them. They also like bright indirect light, so avoid placing them in direct sunlight. Watering about once a week should be sufficient, and be sure to allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings.
10. Dove Orchids (Peristeria elata)
Dove orchids can be found in many tropical rainforests, and they get their name from the unique shape of their flowers – which resembles that of a little, white dove. When growing your own dove orchids, there’s no need to be intimidated. They are pretty easy to care for! They prefer warm climates and partial shade, so you’re in luck if you live in an area with those conditions. Just ensure to keep the soil moist – but not too wet – and fertilize them regularly. With some love and care, you’ll have gorgeous dove orchids blooming quickly!
11. Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)
The kangaroo paw is unsurprisingly native to Australia, and as their name suggests, they look like kangaroo paws! They come in various colors, such as pink, orange, red, and purple. Kangaroo paw plants are relatively easy to grow and can be found in most plant stores. If you want to grow kangaroo paws, you can easily start with a few seeds. You can sow them directly into the ground or start them in pots. Once they germinate, they’ll need full sun and well-drained soil. If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to provide some afternoon shade. Water regularly during the growing season, but don’t overwater – these plants are drought-tolerant once established. Kangaroo paws also make excellent cut flowers, so if you want something different to add to a bouquet, they are the perfect flower to try!
12. Red Butterfly Wing (Christia vespertilionis)
The red butterfly wing plant is sure to be a conversation starter! People are always surprised when they discover the plant looks like small butterfly wings. Southeast Asia is the best place to find red butterfly-wing plants. They’re also pretty easy to grow yourself, which is excellent news for anyone wanting to add a little flair to their home.
If you want to grow your red butterfly wing plant, ensuring the soil is well-draining is a good start. Red butterfly wing plants don’t like sitting in wet soil, so ensure your pot has drainage holes at the bottom. Place your plant in a spot with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Too much direct sun will scorch the leaves, so finding a balance is essential. Water your plant regularly, but don’t overwater it. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry before watering again. With these tips in mind, you’ll surely have a healthy butterfly wing plant thriving in your home.
13. Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)
The fly orchid can be found in Europe and North Africa. This plant gets its name from the appearance of its flowers, as they look just like a fly. The plant is usually brown or black, with yellow spots on the petals. The leaves are long and thin, and the stem is slender. The flowers bloom in the springtime and only last a few weeks. Despite its delicate appearance, the fly orchid is relatively easy to grow. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil and can tolerate drought conditions. Once established, they will bloom every year without fail, providing anyone who sees them with joy.
14. Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
This plant is native to tropical Asia and gets its name from its unique flowers, which resemble large bats. The flowers can be up to 12 inches long and are typically a deep, dark purple. Bat flowers are not commonly found in gardens but can be grown if the conditions are right. They prefer humid climates and partial shade, so they would do best in an area that doesn’t get too much direct sunlight. They also need rich, well-draining soil. If you live in an area that meets these conditions and are interested in growing bat flowers, you can purchase them online or at a specialty nursery.
15. Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica)
This unique lily is native to North America and can usually be found in bogs and seeps. The cobra lily gets its name from its snakelike appearance – the leaves are long and slender, and the flower resembles a striking cobra. The plant is also carnivorous, trapping insects in its pitcher-like leaves. If you want to grow your own cobra lilies, they can be propagated from seed or division. They prefer acidic soil with plenty of organic matter and need full sun to partial shade. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, as too much water will rot the roots.
16. The Green Squid Orchid (Prosthechea cochleate)
The green squid orchid is native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean and gets its name from its squid-like appearance. The flowers of this plant are usually green but can also be yellow, orange, or red, and it resembles a dangling squid. If you would like to grow green squid orchids in your own yard, it’s best to note that they grow best in humid environments with bright indirect light. They should be watered regularly but allowed to dry out completely between watering. If you live in an area with a dry climate, it’s a good idea to mist your green squid orchid daily.
Summary of 16 Plants That Look Like Animals
|Inside looks like a monkey’s face
|Leaves look like pods of breaching dolphins
|White Egret Orchids
|Delicate white flowers look like birds in flight
|Flowers look like little pink and white parrots
|Only bloom once in a lifetime – flowers resemble fuzzy bumble bees
|Flying Duck Orchids
|Flowers look like burgundy flying ducks – with little bills and eye indentions
|Leaves resemble two little green rabbit ears
|Green Bird Flower
|Light green flowers seem to be a flock of feeding hummingbirds
|The white, speckled inside of this flower looks like a moth with wings outstretched
|The inside of this flower seems to be a tiny dove
|These red flowers resemble little kangaroo paws
|Red Butterfly Wing
|The leaves of this plant look like red butterflies in flight
|At first glance – the inside of the flower seems to have a fly on it
|It’s the deep, dark color that reminds one of bats
|Yellow flowers are curved like a cobra getting ready to strike
|Green Squid Orchid
|Flowers feature green tentacle-like parts that seem to be dangling squid
The photo featured at the top of this post is © cotosa/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.