Leucospermum

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subject of ‘coronavirus’ is appearing almost everywhere we look: it’s on our TVs, in our newspapers, coming up in conversations with our friends and all over social media. In fact, it’s appearing so often that some people have started comparing its structure with flowers!

As we know, there are many doppelgangers in the world of nature, from butterflies that look like their wings have eyes, to orchids that look like birds. In fact, I’ve created a whole blog post here about plants that look like rude things! So it’s no wonder why a virus might have a visual similarity to certain flowers.

What does a coronavirus look like?

Coronaviruses are named as such because they look like halos (known as coronas) when viewed under the electron microscope. 

In the image below, the virus is shown to have a structure consisting of spikes which form a ‘crown’ like a solar corona (the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere).

Coronavirus 3d image

This is a 3D animation of the structure of a coronavirus, by scientificanimations.com

This is a common shape in nature, once which appears in a variety of flowers! Here are a few notable comparisons…

Allium

Allium

Of course, the first flower that springs to mind is the Allium! The globe-like flowers of the Allium have often been compared to a firework just after it has exploded – who knew that its next-best lookalike would be a coronavirus structure?

Leucospermum

Leucospermum

Scary or beautiful? You decide! The Leucospermum is an easily recognisable species thanks to its pincushion-like appearance – but now I think it has another body-double!

Aster

Aster

The name Aster comes from the Ancient Greek word (astḗr), meaning “star”, referring to the shape of the flower head. Since coronaviruses look like the Sun, and the Sun is a star, I think this one is a no-brainer – although, only certain Asters, like this pom-pom one, have this globe-like effect.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Dandelions start to look like this after they’ve finished flowering. The fluffy bits are called ‘pappuses’, and they carry the seeds away in the wind to germinate elsewhere. With all the seeds attached, they do look a bit like a coronavirus!

Spider Chrysanthemum

Spider Chrysanthemum

Covered in long, narrow petals, Spider Chrysanthemums (also known as Spider Mums) have large flower heads that can grow up to four inches across. In comparison, a virus structure usually has a diameter of around 220 nanometers.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

Don’t be fooled if you see a display of these blooms in a summer garden – they’re Agapanthus! Native to South Africa, these explosion-like flower heads can sometimes be confused with Alliums to the untrained eye. But will we start confusing images of these with coronaviruses? Anything is possible these days.

 

Which flower do you think most resembles a coronavirus structure? Let me know in the comments below!

Credit to Dan Heims from Terra Nova Nurseries, who started off this thought process. 

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Comments
  • Ni Made Suryadewi

    I see plant much looked like coronavirus than posted here. Wish could show the picture here.

    May 24, 2020
  • Sumita Shankar Garg

    Hi! I have photographed a flower which looks closest to corona. Let me know how I can send you a picture before the bloom is gone

    July 13, 2020
  • Serene

    Echinops.

    I didn’t see this post Michael but last week used the i pad to zoom into some delightful plants called Echinops! Id made that connection to them looking like Corona virus! I actually took a little video of them. I sort of zoomed down on them very quickly so it looks like you get a fright as they hit the lens! Lovely to find you here as id googled the plant and its similarity to covid and fortunately your name came up. Lovely to have arrived here and hi to all!

    July 16, 2020

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