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The Tree That Has Hands

Check out this amazing tree that grows hands every blooming season!

Credit: Stan Shebs, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Chiranthodendron pentadactylon - more easily pronounced "Mexican hand tree" - is the only species in the genus Chiranthodendron of the family Malvaceae. You'll find it in the wetter areas of Guatemala and southern Mexico. But look carefully, or you'll miss it - at first, it looks just like any other tree. But catch it during the early spring/late summer season and you'll see why I had to write this article.

Sprouting from 8 cm-long seed pods, five clawed, scarlet fingers grasp at the air for unsuspecting prey. Watch where you put your arm, or your hand will be its dinner...

Credit: Left: 阿橋 HQ. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 2.0. Right: Stan Shebs. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Just kidding. This plant's not predatory. But its flowers are spectacular and uncannily similar to a clawed human hand. The "fingers" are actually stamen, the male parts of the flower where pollen gets picked up and dropped off by pollinators. And far from being weapons, C. pentadactylon's flowers have many medicinal properties. In fact, the Aztecs used them for abdominal pain, heart problems, edema, and as an anti-cholesterol medication.

Just goes to show how creative Terra can be with her creation.

C. pentadactylon. Plants can reach up to 27 m in height! Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0 Intl.

Source material: Wikipedia.

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