At this year’s Freaky Nature event you’ll have the chance to think up a design for your own strange plant using parts of other real plants. Here’s what you’ll have to do:
- explore how some plants have evolved to taste nice or nasty by following the trail around our Biomes (see below for a preview of the plants you’ll meet)
- look at the ‘Freaky Plants’ scores of each plant to find out their best skills
- make a model of your freaky plant in our Stage area, and add it to the growing forest of freakiness!
Choose your plant parts
Here’s a sneaky peek at some of the plants you’ll meet along the trail through our Biomes. When you find them at Eden, you’ll find out their Freaky Plant scores to help you design a truly strange creation!
This tree grows shiny, yellow fruits full of slimy, brown bean seeds which get turned into yummy chocolate. Humans took some plants from their home in South America and bred and planted them in West Africa and other parts of the tropics. Animals only like the slimy white goo, which surrounds the seed. The goo is sweet, tasty and looks a little like nose ooze – yeuk! The animals don’t like the bitter brown bean seeds so spit them out and then they grow.
Humans love this plant: its seeds are roasted and drunk all over the world! So we plant it all over the world (originally it came from Ethiopia). Animals like it too! They eat the shiny red berries that surround the seeds. The seeds are not digested and come out in the animal’s poo – their own little packet of fertilizer. Some coffee beans are improved by an animal’s gut. The coffee from the civet cat’s poo is some of the most expensive and tasty in the world!
Cashew nuts are tricky to harvest as the shells contain a poison that burns the skin. A single cashew nut grows under a large fruit (that looks a bit like a red pepper). This ‘cashew apple’ is edible, full of good vitamins and sometimes made into a juice. Bats, birds and other animals eat the fruit but throw away the nut because of its poisonous shell. This helps the cashew nut tree spread as the nut grows into new tree. Roasting the nuts destroys the poison but has to be done outside as the smoke is poisonous too.
This strange-looking fruit has its flowers on the inside – this doesn’t stop it getting pollinated though! It gives off a special chemical when it is ready to be pollinated which attracts a special wasp, which gets inside the fig, lays its eggs and pollinates the fig. The wasp’s head and legs are a particular shape that allow it to get through a tiny little hole at the bottom of the fig fruit. Humans like eating figs too so plant them on farms and in gardens. The fig tree is a vigorous grower and survives in poor soils.
Grapes from vines are used to make wine, which has lead to them becoming the most widely grown fruit in the world. Humans feed and water the vines and protect them from pests and diseases. Animals also like the fruits and poo out the seeds (in their own packet of fertilizer) to grow in other places. Vines look dead in winter and send out new green shoots each spring when the weather warms up.
This big, succulent plant has fleshy leaves and really nasty spikes to keep off would-be munchers. It is used for its fibres to make rope, cloth and embroidery thread for leather – it has to be harvested very carefully. People have also worked out how to make alcoholic drinks from the sugary sap and a tasty sugary syrup from the nectar.
Find out more on our agave americana plant profile page.