Excellent Houseplants Named After Animals
Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)
An evergreen from Western Australia, the kangaroo paw (or cat’s paw) gets its name from the clawlike look of the woolly, yellow-green to brownish red flowers that grow on its long stems. In the wild the plant makes a bushy clump up to 10 feet high, but in a pot, its narrow, olive to mid-green leaves grow about 14 inches long.
Goldfish Plant (Columnea banksii)
Place this tropical South American plant in a hanging basket where its woody stems will arch up and trail over the sides in thick, tangled growth covered with dark green leaves about 1 ½ inches long. The leaves contrast nicely with the scarlet, tubular flowers, which have a small hood and a yellow throat.
Butterfly Iris (Diplarrhena moraea)
The butterfly iris is so named because its flowers resemble those of an iris and look like a swarm of butterflies. The white flowers, with yellow and purple markings on the inner petal, are perched on long, thin stems, and the often swordlike, evergreen leaves are about 18 inches long.
Tiger Jaws (Faucaria tigrina)
The low-growing succulent tiger jaws has grayish green leaves and comes from South Africa, where it grows in rocky, semi-desert areas. The spiny edges of its fleshy, diamond-shaped leaves make them look like a miniature gaping jaws, hence its name, but the spines are actually very soft and not dangerous.
Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeeana)
A bushy evergreen shrub, the shrimp plant puts out plenty of leafy growth and has a good covering of odd, salmon-colored flowers--about 4 inches--with a white tongue popping out of the open mouth.
Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)
A wonderfully exotic trailing plant for a hanging basket, parrot’s beak looks terrific and is extremely easy to grow. The long, thin dangling stems have an array of thin, silvery, ornamental leaves and, in late spring, orange-reddish to scarlet, black-centered, beak-like flowers.
Rabbit’s Foot (Maranta leuconera var. kerchoveana)
The marantas are grown for their beautifully patterned foliage, but are tricky to keep because they are used to life in humid South American rainforests, deep beneath the leafy canopy. Rabbit’s foot has light gray-green leaves, blue-gray underneath, that fold up at night--they also have what look like purple-brown rabbit footprints running up the center.