Sex quirks of plants - feature image

If you don’t know about the wonderful world of rude plants, you’re in for a ride. Not only do plants have rude names (Rubus cockburnianus and Clitoria ternatea, to name a couple) and look like rude things (click here to see 5 rude looking plants!), there are also plants that do rude things…


I’m talking about reproduction! Just as humans and other animals reproduce, plants reproduce too. So without further ado, here are five fantastically rude sex quirks of plants.

Pearl necklace


By Fachon, Evie (CC BY 4.0)

Male Eelgrass produces pollen in a slimy band that floats away and snags around female flowers in order to fertilise them. Eelgrass plant beds are completely submerged, and they rely completely on water for pollination.

Shoot your load

Squirting cucumber

by gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (CC BY 2.0)

The Squirting Cucumber does just that – squirt! When ripe, it actually explodes, shooting its seeds in a stream of mucilaginous liquid up to 20ft away from the plant. 

Blindfolded sex

Jack in the pulpit

Jack in the Pulpit uses insects to reproduce – and it blindfolds in the process! Bees fly inside the flower of the plant and get disoriented because it’s so dark. As they’re whizzing about, they get covered in pollen before escaping through a hole and flying to a female flower, which then becomes fertilised. Unfortunately, there’s no way of escaping the female flower, so the bee sadly dies.

Gender fluidity

Dungowan Bush Tomato

By MaxwellPerkins (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The incredible Dungowan Bush Tomato plant is the first plant to be classed as gender fluid! Having confused scientists since the 70s, DNA has since confirmed that each of its bright purple flowers have both male and female parts, and has no stable sexual expression.

Solo performer

Blue violet

By Mark A. Engler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Blue Violet flowers in both the spring and the autumn. However, during the second flowering in the year, the buds don’t open – they remain in the soil, and the male and female parts fertilise themselves. This is a clever back-up plan in case the first flowers do not get pollinated. 


Do you know any other plant sex quirks? Leave a comment below!


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