5 unique plants at the Zoo
The titan arum (corpse flower) isn’t the only unique plant at the Zoo. Across its 183 acres, the Zoo is home to many species of flowers and plants, and the horticulture team takes great care to cultivate species that are native to the geographic regions at the Zoo.
Here are five plants not to miss on your next trip:
1) Like the corpse flower, the tropical pitcher plant can be found in the upper greenhouse or The RainForest (depending on the time of year). This carnivorous plant usually grows as a climbing or scrambling vine and is commonly found in Southeast Asia. The tropical pitcher plant produces ornate “pitchers” or tube-like structures that hang from the main structure of the plant. The pitchers produce a small amount of watery liquid that draws insects in with its intoxicating fragrance and sweet nectar. Bacteria in the pitcher cups help to digest the insects that find themselves trapped in the pitcher cups. The insects provide vital nitrogen that these plants need.
2) Found all over the Zoo, the Paw Paw is a small deciduous tree native to the eastern United States. This tree produces a large, yellowish green fruit that has a sweet, custardish flavor somewhat similar to banana, mango and pineapple. It is commonly eaten raw but are also used to make ice cream and baked desserts.
3) Behind the koala exhibit, heading to the path around Waterfowl Lake, you can find an ancient tree from the “dawn” of time, the Dawn Redwood. Commonly called “a living fossil” by plant enthusiasts, the Dawn Redwood dates as far back to the age of the dinosaurs. It was thought to be a long extinct species, but today is a hardy species that can be found across the world.
4) A cousin of the Dawn Redwood, the Bald Cypress can be found along the path around Waterfowl Lake. This tree may look normal to the average eye, but upon closer look, you can see what makes this tree so unique. The Bald Cypress produces “knees” that sprout upwards from its roots near water or swampy areas. Besides creating a tripping hazard, the function of the “knees” are not entirely known.
5) The Pandanus utilis, commonly known as a screwpine, is not in fact a type of pine tree. You can find this interesting tree growing on the second floor of the RainForest, resembling a type of palm tree. Aerial roots shoot off from the main stem toward the ground in a spiral pattern in order to stabilize the tree, giving it its name and unique appearance. This tree is native to Madagascar and is known for the crazy shape it can take as it grows and its aerial “prop” roots.
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