Top Ten Scary Plants


We love plants; they’re calming, they improve your décor, and they reduce C02 levels in the home and office. But there are plenty of plants that you wouldn’t want to find in your office at 9 am on a Monday morning. With Halloween fast upon us, this blog will take a look at nature’s finest arboreal warriors. Perhaps you’ll appreciate your office peace lily a little more after seeing these horrors.

10) Cuscuta – Strangle Tarestrangle tare

Often appearing overgrown and tangled, Strangle Tare isn’t harmful to human beings, but it is certainly scary to read about. Occupying a ghost-like role in plant life, the Strangle Tare will leech the life out of its host plant(s), detaching itself from its own roots in order to survive solely on the hard work of other vegetations. Strangle Tare thrives in hot climates, and there are only four species native to Northern Europe.

9) Utricularia – Bladderwortbladder wort

Everyone has heard of venus fly traps, but did you know about Bladderwort? Bladderwort flowers, like venus fly traps, feed on whatever prey they can catch in their snapdragon-esque maws. You won’t see bladderwort on land though, Bladderwort lives in fresh water, so next time you go wild swimming, remember the carnivorous Bladderwort!

8) Dering Woods – Screaming Wooddering woods

Dering Woods sits next to Pluckley, England’s most haunted village, in Kent. Dering and Pluckley purportedly house between twelve and sixteen ghostly residents between them, alongside the 1,069 living people who reside there. However, the trees themselves don’t seem to have any bearing on how this woods came to be a hotspot for the supernatural; if anything, what’s really scary is how its ghoulish reputation has led to its destruction. Campers looking for a thrill descend on the Screaming Wood with hopes of meeting a famous ghost, leaving a trail of litter in their wake. Pluckley village has spent £6,000 on litter clearing, and a further £41,000 has been sunk into trying to protect Dering Woods from future ghost hunters. So if you go down to the woods today, you’d better go with an eco-friendly attitude, the ghosts and residents will both be grateful!

7) Armillaria Solidipes – Humongous Fungushumongous fungus

The colloquially named Humongous Fungus spreads itself in the American underground of Malheur National Forest. A mushroom that transcends millennia, the Humongous Fungus is considered to be somewhere between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and covers an area of 3.7 square miles. If you ever get to see these Oregon woodlands, try not to think too much about the expanse of mushroom growing secretly beneath you.

6) Actaea Pachypoda – White Baneberry, Doll’s Eyes

dolls eyes

These creepy berries are aptly named; looking like eyeballs on flesh-red stems, these berries will watch you unceremoniously as you walk through hardwood forests in the USA or Canada. As if they weren’t already unsettling enough, these plants are highly toxic to human beings, causing cardiac arrest or death upon their ingestion.

5) Hydnellum Peckii – Bleeding Tooth Fungusblooding tooth fungus

Mushrooms are already rather odd-looking plants, known for having multiple poisonous variants, but mushrooms can be somewhat charming in the context of being described as fairy houses. The Hydnellum Peckii, by contrast, isn’t going to be considered a suitable home for any fairy. Like its nickname implies, this fungi produces a gross, jammy substance from its pores.

4) Nicotiana Tabacum – Tobaccotobacco plant

All parts of the Tobacco plant are incredibly poisonous, especially its leaves. Even though it’s so poisonous, tobacco continues to be used worldwide, and is estimated to cause more than five million deaths per year. Tobacco might not be visually scary, but it is deadly.

3) Amorphophallus Titanum – Corpse Flowercorpse flower

The Corpse Flower is infamous. It is known for having the largest flower on Earth, but also for emitting the most foul aroma of rotting flesh! The Corpse Flower can reach a whopping three metres in height. The Corpse Flower’s odd aroma is an evolutionary effect which grew to attract carnivorous insects in order to achieve pollination. Even weirder, the Corpse Flower can warm itself up to further resemble dead flesh when attracting flies and dung beetles.

2) Mammillaria Elongata Cristata – Brain Cactusbrain cactus

Just as the name implies, the brain cactus looks freakishly similar to a human organ – the brain. Brain cacti aren’t actually dangerous to humans (aside from the prickly spikes) so you could keep them as indoor office plants if you wanted, but you should first consider the history of how the Brain Cacti develop.

Brain cacti are a type of ‘Cristata’ cacti that form into these brain-esque shapes if they are injured at a young age. Unable to grow past the painful experiences of their youth, the brain cacti grow into a twisted and convoluted shape.

1) Algae Bloom – Red Tidered tide algal bloom

‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.’ This old saying, was a way for shepherds to predict the next day’s weather. The Red Tide, however, is always an omen of ill portent, irrelevant of what time of day it strikes. Red Tide is toxic algae rising up from the sea floor, which can occur after a particularly bad storm. The Red Tide isn’t especially pleasing to look at, being somewhat reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, but what’s more horrifying is the destruction that reveals itself two weeks following: fish and marine life will begin to wash up dead on shores and beaches, having been killed by the toxic algae in their water.

These are the top ten scariest plants in the world. Insect-pollinated plants are good greenery for hay fever and asthma sufferers, but your employees would probably not be too happy if they had to share their workspace with the magnificent Corpse Flower. When looking to choose the perfect indoor office plants, consider getting in contact with Planteria instead.

two plants in pots next to green sofa

If you’re looking for more material on scary plants, why not to turn to literature and film?

1) 1907, The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

2) 1962, The Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

3) 2000, House of Leaves, by M. Z. Danielewski

4) 2008, The Happening, by M. Night Shyamalan

5) 2011, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

6) 2015 (Uk), The Vegetarian, By Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

7) 2016, The Forest, by Jason Zada


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Forest Bathing


Everyone has those days, you know the ones – those days when you knock your coffee over at work, get bumped into in the street and forget to send a time-sensitive email. For that week when things are not going well and you’ve missed the bus home, you need to consider a forest bath.

Forest bathing is a rising trend, and with good reason – it could be an eco-friendly solution to the bottled-up stresses experienced by workers across the country, and it’s incredibly easy to do. In this article, we discuss the joys of forest bathing and where it comes from.

Where Did Forest Bathing Originate

As a country that prizes self-improvement practices and simplicity, Japan has a lot to teach the West about the pursuit of health and happiness and one of the best places for the uninitiated to start is with ‘shinrin-yoku’ – forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku literally translates to ‘forest bathing’, is a fun but very accurate description of this relaxing activity.

The practice of forest bathing under the label of shinrin-yoku began in Japan in 1982 as part of a public health programme, but, truthfully, humans have been practising variants of the activity unprompted for hundreds of years. The poetry from the era of British Romanticism the 19th century can attest to the benefits that nature had on the soul, but never before has this activity been undertaken by thousands as part of a knowing trend.

Some have linked the current popularity of forest bathing to recent surges in mindfulness. Shinrin-yoku is about learning to put your mental-wellbeing first and foremost, and it just so happens that nature is a free and accessible resource which can help us to achieve this.

How to Forest Bathe

Forest bathing is a simple process requiring you to take a few hours out of your day, occasionally, to go and wander in nature. It really is as easy as that. Some schools of thought will put an emphasis on leaving all your electronics at home, but it is understandable that not everyone would feel safe doing this and if you don’t feel safe you will struggle to relax. Instead, it is important to remember that you only get out what you put in, so, by all means, bring your mobile phone, but try to resist the temptation to start texting during your session.

To begin, head out towards a forest or wood and the rest is up to you. You could spend the time walking, resting or investigating plant life – acting on these desires can help to improve your self-confidence, especially after a long week of holding back frustration at work. Try to act on all of your senses, sight, smell, touch and hearing, enjoying a fully immersive experience of the forest.

Woman forest bathing with dog. She is cuddling the German Shepherd and leaning against tree

Why Forest Bathing is Good for Your Health

Shinrin-yoku is very relaxing, which also means that it will reduce heart rate and blood pressure in those practising it. This can be very important for people who struggle with heart problems as the ability to unwind can be more than mentally beneficial, it could have lasting effects on predicted lifespan.

An added effect of forest bathing is that it encourages people to get out and enjoy taking physical exercise in nature. Instead of appreciating it from watching it on television. Forest bathing gets people off the sofa and out walking in the fresh air which is so important. However well ventilated your home or workplace may be, nothing can rival the positive effects of clean air on the body. This means that you should try to make wellness trips to clean air spaces like forests every now and then.

In any fitness regime, or diet, the majority of people see their best results near the beginning when they have the most weight to lose, and you can view your mental wellbeing as a similar muscle; while you may see the best effects from forest bathing if you engage only on your most stressful days, you could succeed in making long-lasting changes to your outlook if you practice shinrin-yoku regularly.

Man forest bathing, walking up a path with arched trees overhead, fallen leaves on the ground

Problems in the UK

It is estimated by that if Central Bedfordshire encouraged 10% of its population to exercise, by providing better access to good quality green spaces, it would save around £2.9m in healthcare costs. Currently, a lack of green space is preventing more people from enjoying the benefits of shinrin-yoku.

The NHS also reports that green spaces have huge benefits to physical, mental and social health, meaning that the public should aim to protect and improve its health by protecting its plants, woods and forests. If this isn’t convincing enough, then perhaps the statistic reported by Natural England regarding our children can convince you that we need to be putting plants in our cities;

‘more than 10% of children have not set foot in a park, forest, or other natural environment over the previous 12 months’ (2016)

This is termed by many as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, and it is something that we need to fix. If not by making the effort to travel to green spaces, then by incorporating more greenery into our cities, offices and homes.

We can do this by improving our collective respect for plant life, and our connection of nature, by adding planting to both indoor and outdoor spaces where we can. From window boxes and trough planters to desktops and cabinet tops. This begins with individuals, especially those in prominent positions. Perhaps you have the opportunity to raise the health, output and mood of your workforce by introducing some indoor office plants to your workplace?

Planters of indoor plants providing nice dividers in open plan office space

Further Reading:

1) Forest Bathing, by Dr Qing Li (book, 2018)

2) Prescribing Green Space, by (pamphlet PDF)

3) Nature Makes You Better,by National Geographic(article, Feb 2019)

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Beekeeping: Our Story and Advice

Our head office team are all buzzing about our honeybees, and you might be too if you knew how important they were and how easy it is to keep them. In this article, we share our experience of beekeeping and offer you some advice to help you get started.

Beekeeping at Planteria

We take the environment and the stewardship of it very seriously. It’s our job to work with nature and improve workplaces across the UK, and this encourages us to understand the importance of natural habitats and how to protect them. Caroline works in our New Business team and she recently became our resident Beekeeper. Read Caroline’s blog below which includes tips and facts to inspire you.

Beekeeping at Planteria – by Caroline

It seems a little ironic to decide to become a beekeeper with a postage stamp for a garden. But, with my first nucleus hive just set up and prepped for winter, here’s how I started my beekeeping adventure.
I have always had a fascination with bees; they are remarkable insects! Every colony is a highly complex community made up of around 50,000 bees, each with a specific role to ensure the survival of the colony as a whole. Bees play an essential role in all ecosystems, pollinating most flowering plants, in turn serving all other animals, with around a third of human food-producing crops reliant on them.

The honey they produce boosts our immune system, provides protection from pollen allergies and has wound-healing benefits through its antibacterial properties. It is also a delicious and natural source of sugar which our bodies find easier to process. The bees produce honey to feed on and, more specifically, to store to ensure their survival through winter. Given enough nectar to forage, and somewhere to store it, they will keep producing it to excess all through the summer, which we can then extract.

There are approximately 44,000 amateur beekeepers registered across the UK, managing over a quarter million hives. Over the last few decades, most of the honeybees’ natural habitats have been destroyed, along with their food supply, so these managed hives make up most of the UK honeybee population today.


I had the opportunity to take part in a beginners’ beekeeping course run by my local beekeeping association. This involved six fascinating evening classes and a little hands-on experience with the bees and their honey. I really just wanted to learn more about bees and maybe lend a hand at the local apiaries. It created a lot of interest at work and I suggested we could have our own hive at Planteria.

We have a clear view of environmental issues and are proudly a zero-to-landfill site, alongside other positive changes like using hybrid vehicles to further limit our environmental impact. It wasn’t a stretch to think Planteria would be open to the idea of a little backyard beekeeping, and I have such amazing employers who not only thought it was a great idea – but they also covered the cost of bees, the hive and equipment too.

We are so lucky to have a rural office space with over an acre and a half of meadow. With it already home to our sheep and lots of chickens, the bees are barely noticeable and have lush hawthorn hedgerow and dandelions to forage from. Our year-round supply of office flowers, awaiting delivery to our customers, also provides a unique and diverse menu for our bees.

With any little luck, and despite my novice beekeeping skills, our bees will be producing honey from spring next year. In fact, if all goes to plan, I should be harvesting upward of 10kg honey from our single hive.

Starting Your Own Beehive and Supporting the Bees

We highly recommend meeting with your local beekeeping association who are experts at beekeeping and can support you with both knowledge and resources. They can give you lots of advice on the local species, how to build your own beehive and the cost of beekeeping.

Spring is the best time of the year to start beekeeping if you are starting from scratch, so prepare ahead. It is best to introduce bees to a new hive during spring, so they have the whole summer to forage and settle with a good stock of honey for winter. Plan to have all your equipment ordered during late autumn and installed before the end of winter so that you can order bees, get some training, and be fully prepared for their arrival.

There is a lot to think about when installing bees on your property; you’ll need to think about appropriate areas of shade, raising the hive to a good height so you can access it easily, and buying protective clothing to tend to your bees without getting stung. You may also want to get tested for allergies by your doctor before you go all-in on your beekeeping. There’s a lot to consider, so speak to your local beekeepers and refer to our blog for more stories about our real experiences with honeybees.

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