Weird Plants: Record-breakers & Title-holders

PimlicoDan
Published on August 17th 2019
29
An empty park bench next to a tree
As we’ve just had the record-breaking hottest day ever in the UK, I thought I would dive into the plants great and small which hold their own world records...
From monstrous trees to minute pondweed, here are the most extreme weird plants and the titles they hold.

Land of the Giants

Trees

Many of the most massive trees in the world have been given actual names. The most famous of these is General Sherman, a giant sequoia from California (main picture, above).
A tree next to a rock
Methuselah was (until recently) the oldest known tree, and has been growing on a Californian mountain for almost 5,000 years!
Largest:
General Sherman - Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). 1,487 cubic metres.
a man looking up at General Sherman, the gian redwood tree
Tallest:
Hyperion – Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). 115.92 metres.
You can find out more about world's giant trees here:
Oldest:
Methuselah – Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). 4,850 years old. Since 2013 another tree of the same species, growing in the same location, is thought to be an estimated 5,062 years!
Methuselah, the oldest tree in the world. Bare and knarly on a hillside
Broadest:
Thimmamma Marrimanu – Banyan (Ficus benghalensis). 180 metres in diameter.
Deepest roots:
Echo Caves wild fig (Ficus sp.): The roots of the fig tree are reported to go down 120m (400ft) into the ground. That’s deeper than Hyperion is tall!
Stoutest:
Tree of Tule – Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum). 11.62 metres in diameter (due to buttressing).
A group of people standing in front of a tree
The Sunland Baobab (_Adansonia digitata_) has the highest average width at 10.64 metres in diameter.

Foliage, Fruit & Flowers

Largest leaf (overall):
Raffia palm (Raphia regalis): Has colossal palm fronds up to 26m long and 3m wide.
Largest fruit:
Atlantic giant pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima): The current record-holder weighs-in at 1,054kg (2,323lb).
Largest seed:
Coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica): The seed of this palm is 30cm long and weighs up to 25kg.
Largest individual flower:
Corpse lily (Rafflesia arnoldii): Each rotten-smelling flower can measure up to 1.5m (4.9 ft) across.
A close up of a garden
The largest flower on earth, the corpse lily, is a parasite! (Rafflesia arnoldii)
Largest inflorescence (branched):
Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera): Has huge panicles over ten metres in height and almost seven metres wide.
Largest inflorescence (unbranched):
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum): A foul-smelling spadix reaching up to three metres (10ft) in height.
Titum arum, the tallest flower in the world

Largest organism on earth?

Pando – Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides): An enormous clonal colony of male trees determined to be a single living organism.
When it comes to mass, it dwarfs all other trees and animals, including General Sherman and the blue whale. Although, the humungous fungus (a honey fungus in Oregon) is also often blessed with this title.
A tree with a mountain in the background

Pint-sized Plants

When it comes to the world in miniature, one plant holds most of the titles. Asian watermeal (Wolffia globosa) is a tiny relative of our common duckweed and grows similarly, on the surface of calm Asian backwaters. It has no roots, no stems and produces fronds rather than true leaves. It holds the titles for:
Smallest leaf: Each frond measures less than a millimetre in width.
Smallest flower: Around the size of a grain of salt.
Smallest fruits: Often smaller than a grain of salt!
Smallest flowering plant: The whole plant usually measures less than 2mm across.
Furthermore, Wolffia It is edible, though you’d need to wolf down a lot of these tiny plants to fill up!
A close up of a green leaf
Tiny Wolffia next to regular-sized duckweed.
Smallest tree: Dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) – Often cited as the smallest tree in the world, botanists cannot agree as to whether it an actual tree or, in fact, a shrub.
Either way, it only measures 1-6cm in height.
Smallest seeds: There are some tropical epiphytic orchids which produce seeds that measure only 85 micrometres (1/300th of an inch) in length and weigh a 35 millionth of an ounce. This is so they can disperse easily into the canopy of the rainforest.
a yellow epyphitic orchid growing on the side of a tree
Smallest bonsai: A ‘world’s smallest’ category wouldn’t be right without bonsai.
Although there is no single bonsai that holds the title for smallest in the world, the ‘mame’ bonsai are the smallest for sure.
The oldest bonsai is a Ficus retusa at the Crespi Museum in Italy and is estimated to be over 1000 years old.
A close up of a flower garden in front of a fence

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