Top Ten Weird Plant Names


Ever heard of a Sneezewort, or a Monkey Puzzle Tree? We’ve got a whole list of wonky plants and the inside scoop on where they got their funny names!

#1 Sneezewort Yarrow (Achillea ptarmica)


Also known as: Sneezeweed

I’m named this because… I was once used as a sneezing powder. Sneezeweed was dried up and used to get people to sneeze to clear out their sinuses!

Fun fact: This plant doesn’t just make people sneeze; it can also be eaten in salads or used as an insect repellent.

#2 Hooded Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata)

Hooded Skullcap
Hooded Skullcap. Photo Credit: Fornax

Also known as: Marsh Skullcap

I’m named this because… my flowers look like caps

Fun fact: The Hooded Skullcap is part of the mint family but it doesn’t taste like mint! One of its relatives is also famous, the plant, called mad-dog weed, was used in medieval times as a remedy for rabid-dog bites.

#3 Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)

Monkey Puzzle Tree
Monkey Puzzle Tree

Also known as: Chilean Pine

I’m named this because… an Englishman in the early 1800s said that the tree would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb, even though there are no monkeys where this tree grows!

Fun fact: These trees can live for many years; the oldest is over 800 years old! These trees can also grow as big as 150 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 7 feet.


#4 Devil’s Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa)

Devils Walking Stick
Devils Walking StickPhoto Credit: Richard Chambers

Also known as: Angelica-Tree, Prickly Elder, Hercules Club

Fun fact: The stems of the shrub have long “prickles” and it is not uncommon to see them grow 15 cm long!

#5 Turkey Corn (Dicentra eximia)

Turkey Corn plant
Turkey Corn. Photo Credit: Kurt Stuber

Also known as: Fringed Bleeding Heart

Fun fact: This is the most heat tolerant plant in the Dicentra family. It will continue to grow throughout the summer, as long as the soil does not dry out.


#6 Kangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos flavidus)

Tall Kangaroo Paw plant
Tall Kangaroo Paw

I’m named this because… clusters of my flowers look like a paw.

Fun fact: In the wild Kangaroo Paws can only be found in South Western Australia.

# 7 Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris)

Butter and Eggs plant
Butter and Eggs

Also known as: Yellow Toadflax, Brideweed

I’m named this because… my flower looks like an egg yolk

Fun fact: According to myth, Butter and Eggs was originally a yellow dragon that transformed, sadly it then choked on a fried egg.


# 8 Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Hen and Chicks plant
Hen and Chicks. Photo Credit: Kurt Stuber

Also known as: House Leeks

I’m named this because… I form in a large cluster (the hen) surrounded by smaller patches (the chicks)

Fun Fact: Hen and Chicks were originally planted on roofs as protection against lightning because they are linked to Thor and Zeus, the two mythical gods of lightning.


#9 Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)

Lambquarters. Photo Credit: rasbak

Also known as: Fat Hen, White Goosefoot, Wild Spinach

I’m named this because… the word Lambsquarters comes from lammas quarter which is a harvest festival that was held on August 1st in 9th century England where this plant was eaten. The nickname goosefoot comes from the leaves that look like a goose’s foot.

Fun fact: This plant can produce 75,000 seeds and can grow in many soil types. Lambsquarters is also very healthy for you; it contains more vitamins and essential minerals than many vegetables, especially Lettuce, Spinach and Cabbage

# 10 Cheeseweed Mallow (Malva parviflora)

Cheeseweed Forest
Cheeseweed Forest Photo Credit: Kim Starr

Also known as: Little Mallow

I’m named this because… the shape of my fruit looks like mini cheese rounds but they do not taste like cheese!

Fun fact: Stay away from this plant if you’re a chicken, poultry that eat this plant’s seeds or leaves may produce lower quality eggs.

John Kallas, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. Gibbs Smith(publisher), Utah: 2010,Page 103

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