Blood, Body Parts And Evil Angels: 6 Creepy, Weird Or Scary Plants

Hello!

It’s almost summer and the flowers are sprouting, which is the best time to remind ourselves that nature is the weirdest thing you’ll ever experience. As you can tell from previous posts, I love weird nature and creepy creatures, they’re brilliant prompts for stories, but today I shall focus solely on those life forms that were here long before us and will remain when we’re gone – plants.

The Bleeding Tooth Fungus: We’ll start with something really grotesque because you can handle it, you’re grown ups with eyes of steel. The Bleeding Tooth Fungus apparently isn’t poisonous but has a very bitter taste rendering it inedible. Doesn’t it make you hungry though? It reminds me of jam. bleeding-tooth-fungus

It lurks mostly in North American forests but has been spotted elsewhere. The ooze (or sap, if you want to be all sciencey about it) is sometimes yellow (mmm, pus) pink, beige or orange.

Bleeding Tooth Fungus: In French With English text

Angel Trumpet: brugmansia

The very epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, these South American plants appear heavenly but are said to have a darker secret than an Edgar Allen Poe character.

They contain atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, the last of which can apparently be used to alter another person’s state of mind, or create ‘zombies.’ I don’t personally know how true these claims are, much of it sounds a little over-hyped, but cases exist where the plant has been blamed for causing a hypnotic state, such as in the victims of a trio of thieves arrested in Paris who ‘willingly’ handed over possessions. However it’s unclear whether scopolamine can actually remove free will.

World’s Scariest Drug

Rafflesia Flower: We all know of the Titan Arum corpse flower and it’s scent of rotting corpses, but perhaps slightly less known in some parts is the Rafflesia from Southeastern Asia, also known as the corpse flower. Confused? Good.

It’s a parasite which latches onto the roots of a host plant. It’s innards stink of decomposing flesh to attract the flies it feeds on. Naturally, with all this going for it, it’s the official state flower of Indonesia (?).

worlds largest corpse flower Rafflesia Arnoldii

Devil’s Fingers: Mistaken online for an alien life form the Devil’s Fingers fungus, or Octopus Stinkhorn, is truly rather strange.

Growing mostly in Britain it bursts from an other-wordly sack to release it’s foul stench (for attracting flies) into the world.

Devil’s Fingers Time Lapse

Clitoria: clitoriaThe scientist who named this beauty certainly wasn’t shy. He/she saw a flower that looked like it had a clitoris and called it as it was.

Another native of Southeast Asia, this flower is used as food dye or eaten deep fried. Others have historically attempted to give it less ‘controversial’ names but they never stuck because, let’s face facts, it looks like a fanny.

Dracula Orchids: orchid-dracula With a name evoking the undead you would expect these flowers from Central America to look creepy but they’re actually quite cute, if you like monkey faces. Slightly judgmental monkey faces.

Being Orchids these are cultivated by fanciers for their beauty and rarity. They were named Dracula because of the red colour displayed by some.

There we have it my little summer popsicles. Go, now, and frolic amongst the monkey faced fields and corpse laden air. I’ll be watching.

My Top 6 Creepy, Weird Or Scary Serial And Fiction Podcasts

Hello my little flower seed packets surreptitiously passed to Poirot as a clue to be deciphered later. Here in the future there are so many ways to experience fiction that words leak from our every orifices. One of the ways I’ve been mainlining fiction is via podcasts, and thanks to all those who alerted me to these particular gems.

What works so well about the fictional casts is the blending of fact and fiction, echoing Orson Welles’ fifties radio version of War of the Worlds where the first section was presented as a genuine news reel. Also taken from the past is the serial format, reflecting the stories Dickens and many others wrote for newspapers.

I’m going to assume you know of Welcome to Night Vale and Thrilling Adventure Hour (especially their ‘Beyond Belief’ segment). If you’re after podcasts to send your own fiction to have a look at the mini list below:

Escape Pod (science fiction

Pseudopod (horror)

Drabblecast (weirdest of the weird)

Wicked Library (more horror).

OK let’s go!

  1. Fireside Mystery Theater 

These stories, despite being set in the modern day, have a distinctly fifties feel. Performed live at The Slipper Room in New York it’s in turns funny, strange and…mysterious. Of course, being a variety show (each episode has one or two songs as well as a few stories), some are better than others but you can feel the fun they’re having and there’s some great ones.

I really enjoyed this Childhood Fears themed episode:

2. Tanis

Inspired by places of mystery or legend like Atlantis and Xanadu, this series is a fictional search for Tanis. Is it a place? Is it a thing? Is it a tiny lemon-shaped vacuum cleaner? The main story is punctuated by true mysteries and literary/weird fiction references from Haruki Murakami to House of Leaves, which makes me as geekily happy as this bird with a paper towel.

Episode 1:

3. The Black Tapes

This serial on the unsolved cases of Paranormal investigator Dr Strand comes from the same production company as Tanis. Again the stories are inspired by ‘true’ mysteries such as the audio from Hell and the exorcism of Anneliese Michel (here under a fictional name).

The individual cases aren’t always brought to a satisfying conclusion  – so far, anyway, I’ve only listened to a few – but they are intriguing and definitely enjoyable. Also Strand reminds me of a moodier and darker Richard Wiseman, a magician and debunker whose book promotion I went to in Edinburgh. He was very jolly, it was fun.

I couldn’t share episode 1 here, sorry!

4. Limetown Stories

This seven part (so far) series actually made me very nervous as I listened through headphones late at night. It’s premise is eerie enough; ten years ago residents of Limetown disappeared without trace and journalist Lia Haddock is determined to find out what happened. The story builds in spookiness and intrigue until…well, I won’t tell you anymore.

Episode 1:

5. The Message

This reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man: Aliens land and announce they’re bringing earthlings back to their planet to live peacefully. Scientists attempt to decipher a book of theirs throughout, not succeeding until it’s too late. I have a sneaking suspicion that the possibly extra-terrestrial message the code-breakers are attempting to crack in this podcast isn’t going to be anything good.

Episode 1:

6. Serial

This is the only nonfiction entry and it’s completely addictive. Sarah Koenig, a journalist and radio personality, is attempting to get to the bottom of a case which doesn’t add up on closer inspection. Or does it? That’s what she’s trying to figure out.

Adnan Syed is in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore. It seemed at the time to be a cut and dried example of a jealous ex boyfriend, but none of their school mates believe it and some of the timelines are iffy to say the least. Also there are possible fantasists, streakers, and much more. Seriously, give this one a listen, I had to force myself to switch it off and go to sleep.

Years from now I will be discovered, nothing but thick cobwebs stretched over bones, a pair of headphones stuck to my yellowing skull, the only sound the weak strains of one of these podcasts or Audible (which is also good, Gillian Anderson and Neil Gaiman have already read me spooky stories).

That’s how anyone would want to go, isn’t it? Join us…

Writing Advice From Professional Authors

Oh, hello! You’re early! My my… I was just in the middle of baking macaroons. Erm, have a seat and chat with these well known author types until I’m finished:

Neil Gaiman’s advice for aspiring authors:

Octavia Butler on writing science fiction:

Ray Bradbury on writing:

Jeff Vandermeer on weird writing:

Angela Carter discusses her writing:

Jamaica Kincaid on finding her voice as a writer:

Terrifying Science Fiction Monsters of the Natural World

We’ve all seen this clip of the Nemertea, or ribbon worm’s, attempt to digest that man’s hand. Here’s a bit more info, and take comfort in the fact that they can grow up to 54 metres (177 ft) long. That’s longer than my nightmares can cope with:

I’ve been fascinated by disgusting animals since I saw a fly give birth to a maggot. “They don’t give birth to maggots” I hear you cry, “they lay eggs.” Well, I didn’t realise that until years later when it hit me that the thing wasn’t giving birth, it was being eaten from the inside out. Eeuuuuuurrr.

So, for anyone else delighting in the SciFi, B Movie creatures of our natural world, here are a few more (have a peek at my previous post) grotesques to see you on your way.

Here’s a BBC clip of a leech swallowing a giant worm. It’s like it’s eating itself. A self-hating leech. Well, not quite, I’m sure they have very different bodily make-up, but…oh, just watch it.

Tapeworms are pretty disgusting. A while ago scientist Michael Mosley infested himself with parasites for a TV programme and here is a little clip:

If ever a creature evolved from the tears of frightened children the ‘living fossil’ Goblin Shark would be it. Growing to lengths of 12.6 feet (384cm) the oddest thing about them is their freaky protruding jaws:

You know how it is. It’s spring, you’re thinking of which flowers you want in your garden, what would look pretty with what. Look no further – here’s The Corpse Flower, a plant known for the stench of rotten flesh:

Butterflies, bees and other creepy crawlies sometimes drink tears – my tears when I think about this too much:

Let’s end on a cute (but still pretty weird) note with the Dumbo Octopus. Look at its little ears!

Scratch That…Send Us Your Three Hundred Word Or Less Stories

We’re getting too many good stories that are over a hundred and under three hundred, so that’ll be the new length we read on the podcast.

The rest stays the same, send us an odd or scary story along with a website/other contact I can read aloud, however nothing over three hundred as no-one wants to hear me droning on for hours. OK…now!

Send to: bizartcast@gmail.com

Podcast link: bizartpodcast.wordpress.com