Today’s Weird and Wonderful flower spends a lot of its time not looking much like a flower at all…!
The lithops leslei is a remarkable looking plant. Its flower is nothing too bizarre – quite pretty in an odd way, it consists of a palm-tree-like bloom of yellow fronds, which opens slowly from between the lithops’ two leaves.
But what leaves!
The leaves of the lithops are unlike any other flower’s. But it certainly wouldn’t be true to say that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, because the leaves of the lithops look almost exactly like a pair of ordinary, moss-flecked pebbles. Indeed the very first scientific description that we have of a lithops, from the botanist William John Burchell, refers to him finding the plant when stooping to pick up a ‘curiously shaped pebble’ from the ground.
Unsurprisingly, these have become extremely popular as novelty plants; there’s something delightful about watching a flower slowly emerge from the middle of a stone. The reason that the lithops looks like this is because the areas where they grow are generally extremely dry, so any plant whose leaves are obvious are likely to get snacked upon by thirsty animals. Looking like a stone is a good way to avoid being spotted..
It’s not too hard to get your hands on some lithops of your own if you want to grow these curiously shaped pebbles for yourself. Just remember not to water them too often!