Tag Archives: plants

Garden of Horrors: Pterocarpus Angolensis

Garden of Horrors: Pterocarpus Angolensis

Fantasy authors love coming up with fantastical names for the trees that inhabit their magical worlds, and as readers, we all enjoy learning about new species of strange flora be it George R. R. Martin’s ghostly “weirwood” or J. K. Rowling’s violent “Whomping Willow.” But our own world is ripe with plant life that sometimes seems almost fictional.

Enter the Pterocarpus angolensis a type of tree from southern Africa. It’s also known by its common name: the bloodwood. Why? Well, because it bleeds, man. It bleeds! Want proof?

Pterocarpus angolensis—the bloodwood, bleeding
Pterocarpus angolensis—the bloodwood, bleeding

Ack! I mean, doesn’t it look like this tree was the victim of a horrible crime? High levels of tannins (the same stuff in red wine) are what gives the tree’s sap its dreadful color. Because of its red hue, the sap is often used as a folk remedy for blood conditions. I mean, if it looks like blood it must be good for blood, right? Right? Folk remedies aside, the tree has been shown to have actual medicinal benefits as well. (See all its uses in this extensive PDF document.) I also found a video on YouTube of something cutting into a bloodwood, and it’s as disgusting as you’d expect. It looks like something from a horror movie.

Yuck. Funny enough the P. angolensis isn’t the only tree that bleeds red. Australia has a species named the Corymbia calophylla, a type of eucalyptus that oozes a red kino and also looks like a murder victim. That video above might be from the latter. Either way—gross.

So yeah, now you know some trees bleed red, and it makes most fictional creations seem almost tame in comparison. Happy gardening!


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Hydnellum peckii

Garden of Horrors: Hydnellum Peckii

Sometimes nature is downright bizarre. Take the Hydnellum peckii, commonly called the “bleeding tooth fungus” (it’s also called “strawberries and cream” by people who, I assume, have never had strawberries or cream before.) When young the Hydnellum peckii produces a fluid that makes it look like a mushroom murder victim. It appears to “bleed” a red juice that in certain light looks an awful lot like blood. I’m not kidding, it’s kind of horrific.

A young Hydnellum peckii "bleeding"
A young Hydnellum peckii “bleeding”

The bright red fluid actually contains a pigment that is known to have anticoagulant properties, but it doesn’t stick around for very long. Once the fungus ages the “bleeding” stops and the Hydnellum peckii dries out and looks rather dull.

Despite its appearance, Hydnellum peckii is not poisonous, but the fungus is so bitter it’s considered inedible. Besides, why would you want to put this thing in your mouth anyway? That’s disgusting. Don’t be nasty.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Clathrus archeri

Garden of Horrors: The Clathrus Archeri

The natural world is weird, wonderful, and often terrifying. Case in point: this morning, I stumbled across the Clathrus archeri—a real-world Lovecraftian species of fungi. Its know more commonly as the “devil’s fingers,” but to me, it looks more like a chthonian spawn emerging from its egg. The sticky black gleba doesn’t help. Don’t believe me?

Clathrus archeri
The devil’s fingers breaking free from their shell.

While originally from the Australasia the devil’s fingers have spread over the last century. Mycologists think that during WW1 the Clathrus archeri hitchhiked on Australian supplies for the war effort. Likewise, these stowaways have also shown up in California where it’s believed they arrived with shipments of bamboo. If the picture above hasn’t creeped you out, here’s a timelapse I found on YouTube showing one emerge.

Oh, and when mature they smell like rotten flesh. Because of course.