These plants have earned their names due to their physical resemblance to certain animals or because of their association with animals in folklore or cultural references.
Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’
This is a small and adorable perennial plant that forms an open mound of horizontal, thick, nearly round, rich blue-green leaves, up to 3 in. long. The leaves are curled in such a way as to resemble the shape of a mouse ear. It produces bell-shaped, lavender, lily-like flowers in mid-summer on thick pale green scapes rising to 8-12″ tall.
This plant is reasonably pest tolerant, and its compact size and moderate growth rate make it an excellent subject for containers and small gardens. It was named Hosta of the Year for 2008 by the American Hosta Growers Association.
Fern genus Arachniodes
Arachniodes is a fern genus in the family Dryopteridaceae (wood ferns), subfamily Dryopteridoideae. A number of species in this genus are known as “holly ferns”. This genus of mostly evergreen ferns hails primarily from Asia, where they form compact colonies or tight clumps.
In appearance, they are similar to Dryopteris, with virtually all species having good garden merit. Typically, arachniodes are not the fastest ferns to grow, but they make great long-term garden specimens.
Kangaroo paw is a genus of 11 species and multiple subspecies of flowering plants that are native to Australia. These plants have long, slender, arching leaves similar to the foliage of daylilies or amaryllis plants. The unusual tubular flowers grow on stalks in fan-like rows and are covered in velvety fuzz, giving them the appearance of an animal’s paw. The blooms come in an array of shades, including red, orange, yellow, and purple. Kangaroo paw plants grow fairly quickly and don’t require much maintenance. They prefer to grow in full sun and can tolerate a variety of soil types, as long as there is good drainage.
Also known as green birdflower, birdflower ratulpo, parrot pea, or regal birdflower, this plant is a member of the legume family Fabaceae. It is named Crotalaria after the Greek word for rattle because their seeds rattle, and cunningham after early 19th-century botanist Allan Cunningham. This short-lived perennial plant is native to Australia and its habitat is the deserts, coastlands, drainage lines, and sand dunes of the northern half of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The green birdflower is a perennial shrub that grows to about 1–3 m in height. It has hairy or woolly branches and dull green foliage. The oval leaves are about 30 mm long, the large and greenish pea flowers are streaked with fine black lines, and the club-shaped seed pods are up to 50 mm long. The plant’s flowers grow on long spikes at the ends of its branches. The flower greatly resembles a bird attached by its beak to the central stalk of the flowerhead.
The Foxtail Fern, also known as Asparagus densiflorus ‘Meyersii’, is a unique and visually captivating plant prized for its feathery foliage and architectural appeal. Despite its name, the Foxtail Fern is not a true fern but rather a member of the asparagus family, native to South Africa.
This perennial plant features dense, upright stems covered with needle-like leaves that resemble the tail of a fox, hence its name. The foliage is a vibrant green color and forms a lush, bushy mound, creating a striking focal point in gardens or containers.
Foxtail ferns thrive in well-draining soil and prefer partial to full shade, making them an excellent choice for shady spots in the garden or as indoor houseplants. They are relatively low-maintenance, requiring regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist but can tolerate periods of drought once established.
The Rabbit Foot Fern, scientifically known as Davallia fejeensis, is a captivating fern species admired for its distinctive fuzzy rhizomes that resemble the foot of a rabbit, hence its charming name. Native to Fiji and other Pacific Islands, this fern adds a touch of whimsy and intrigue to any indoor or outdoor space.
Known for its delicate, lacy fronds that gracefully arch and cascade, the Rabbit Foot Fern creates a lush and verdant display. Its rhizomes, which creep along the surface of the soil, produce furry, light brown scales that give the plant its characteristic rabbit-like appearance.
Thriving in filtered or indirect light and well-draining soil, the Rabbit Foot Fern prefers consistent moisture but can tolerate occasional drying out between waterings. It is well-suited to hanging baskets or elevated containers where its trailing fronds can cascade freely.
The Zebra Plant is a tropical evergreen shrub native to Brazil. It is loved for its unique dark green leaves striped with white veins. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and wide in ideal conditions. When in bloom, which usually happens in late summer or early autumn, a zebra plant bears tall golden bracts that can reach several inches long and number between two to four per plant, lasting up to six weeks.
The indoor zebra plant is a slow-growing plant, reaching maturity of a couple of feet tall in three years. It thrives in bright, indirect light. It can tolerate a couple of hours of direct morning sunlight, but avoid long periods of direct sun and especially direct afternoon sun, which can cause the leaves to scorch.
The Ponytail Palm is a drought-tolerant, slow-growing plant that requires very little care. This plant is ideal for people with very little time or who travel regularly. The Ponytail Palm will be perfectly happy being watered every couple of weeks and left alone to soak up the sunlight. The bulb-like trunk is used to store water and the long leaves that grow from the top of the trunk resemble a ponytail.
This distinct plant brings a little fun to any room in your home. The Ponytail Palm is neither a palm nor a tree—it’s actually a member of the Agave family, native to the southeastern desert of Mexico. It is native to arid regions in Central America and is among the easiest of small trees to grow indoors.
Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, this is a unique flowering plant with beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Because of the oval-shaped holes or fenestrations dappled throughout the leaf, it’s sometimes called Monstera adansonii Swiss cheese, or simply Swiss cheese plant. This lovely monstera has glossy, green leaf surfaces and is incredibly easy to grow.
It’s native to Central and South America, parts of southern Mexico, and the West Indies. These jungle plants look similar to their cousin, Monstera deliciosa — but they don’t grow anywhere near as large. In addition, instead of the huge indents in their leaves, they develop large oval holes as they mature, giving them the appearance of Swiss cheese.
This is a rare variety of succulents that looks like a pair of green bunny ears. These adorable plants are native to South Africa, and they’re described as drought-induced deciduous plants. The heads of these bright green succulents each have two upward growths, resembling perky bunny ears. However, it’s important to know that the ears won’t stay that way forever.
Over time, the succulent ears grow long and tall. They’ll look more like string beans growing from a tiny head than bunny ears. With a little TLC, those ears will eventually bloom spectacular rose flowers. Just keep in mind that bunny succulents are summer dormant, meaning they hibernate and don’t grow again until the winter months.
The Unicorn Plant is part of the genus Proboscidea, a clump-growing succulent plant native to South Africa. There are two species known as the “Bunny Ear” succulent: M. moniliformis and M. obconica. Both species produce a distinctive “head” and a second pair of leaves that resemble the bunny-like ears. The plants produce long, hooked seed pods.
The hooks catch on the feet of animals, and as the animals walk, the pods are ground or crushed open, dispersing the seeds. The fruits of all species are edible before they ripen and become woody. They can be steamed and eaten much like okra. Some species (particularly P. parviflora) are used in basket weaving.