Flashback Friday: Flowers That Do Things

Samantha Jones

The 1998 Old Farmer’s Almanac Gardener’s Companion gives us a look at some crazy flowers that do crazy things. Did you know these flowers could do this?


Swivel Their Heads

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) is sometimes called false dragonhead. Its two-lipped flowers in pink, purple, or white are arranged in four rows on spikes. They can pivot around (as if swivel-jointed) so that they all face in the same direction - to the front, side, or back - presumably being obedient.

Cringe at a Touch

Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica) is a tropical native that shrinks at a touch. The leaves are made of tiny leaflets arranged in sprays of four. If you touch the base of a leaflet, it affects sacs of a mucilaginous material and the leaves fold up and droop, as if in a bashful collapse.

Spit Seeds

Jewelweed (Impatiens spp.) is often called touch-me-not but not because it’s dangerous - although it can be startling. Just brushing the leaves of the plant when the seedpods are ripe can cause the pods to explode and the seeds to scatter. If you hold a pod in your hand, you can feel it struggle, like a bug.

Burst into Flames

Gas plant (Dictamnus albus) is also called spitfire plant and burning bush. The leaves, flowers, and seedpods give off a flammable gas that you can ignite with a match held under the flower cluster near the main stem.

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