Are These 10 Plants as Scary as Their Names?

Nature can be creepy. More specifically, the names of plants can be creepy. But do scary plant names mean the plant itself is scary? Sometimes. Here are 10 plants with ghastly names.

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Dracula Orchids

Some people believe Dracula Orchids look a bit like vampires, however, they’re anything but scary. The American Orchid Society notes that this small- to medium-sized flower is found in moist forests, mostly in Colombia and Ecuador and is a popular choice for orchid hobbyists.

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Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade (aka Belladonna, which doesn’t sound creepy at all) is a relative of potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. However, this plant is toxic. In fact, Deadly Nightshade has a history of use as a poison. The plant’s foliage and berries are extremely toxic when ingested, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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Purple Devil

Purple Devil is a perennial herb that flowers in late spring or early summer. It looks pretty devilish with its thorns and prickles, and the plant’s leaves and fruit are both poisonous, according to the National Gardening Association. Some gardeners use it as a barrier hedge as it is good for keeping unwanted visitors away.

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Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is common in many parts of the United States, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and blooms with bold yellow flowers in fall. The plant’s seed pods actually pop loudly enough that you can hear them! Witch Hazel is used an ingredient for topical applications such as skin toner and cleanser. However, the FDA says there is no scientific-based proof that substantiates the benefits of this use of Witch Hazel.

This plant is so much worse than poison ivy.

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Ghost Plant

The Ghost Plant is a hardy succulent with pale gray or whitish leaves which are not spooky. Native to Mexico, this scary-sounding plant can grow between 6 inches and a foot tall and is often used as a ground cover, according to the University of Florida.

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Brain Cactus

A succulent, the Brain Cactus is a drought-tolerant cactus that is native to Mexico. The National Gardening Association says while it can grow in many shapes, it often resembles a brain with thorns and spines.

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Devil’s Claw

Found in dry places such as southwestern California, Arizona and Nevada, Devil’s Claw is also known as unicorn plant, according to the USDA. The plant’s flowers can be white to pink and the seed pods (shown here) have “claws” which were often collected by native tribes in the Southwest and used to create basketry designs.

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Doll’s Eyes

This plant has eyes for you! Doll’s Eyes are named for a distinctive, dark, pupil-looking mark on the ends of their white berries, according to Prairie Moon Nursery. The plant blooms in late summer to early fall and it is poisonous if eaten.

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Death Camas

Death Camas is a flower stalk with an appropriate name, as all parts of the plant—the stem, flowers, leaves and bulbs—contain alkaloids, which are toxic, according to Minnesota Wildflowers. This perennial blooms June through August and can grow as high as 36 inches, with white, star-like stalked flowers.

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Corpse Flower

Appropriately named, the rare Corpse Flower is large and known for its extremely foul odor, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. The plant rarely blooms and when it does, it unleashes its foul odor for up to 12 hours.

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.