Mimicry plants are types of plants that mimic or copy other plants to avoid being eaten by herbivores. Mimicry can be used in many different ways, including looking like a part of the environment. Some mimicry plants look like leaves and sticks that animals would eat, while others mimic flowers or fruits.
Mimicry plants have been around for a long time, and they mimic the look of other species to help them survive. In this blog post, we will explore different types of mimicry plants that you may not be aware that they exist!
An example of a mimicry plant is the Monkey Orchid, one of the mimicry plants that mimic an orchid with its bright orange color. This mimicry helps it to deceive pollinating insects into thinking they are landing on a flower instead of a leaf.
Another mimicry plant is the Rafflesia arnoldii which looks like an open hand from far away but up close resembles rotten meat because it’s covered in flies and smells terrible. It can grow as big as nine feet
Mimicry is a strategy that many plants use to avoid being eaten. There are many different mimicry plants, and they all have their own unique way of avoiding predators. Let’s take a look at the 17 different mimicry plant types below!
An Overview of mimicry plants
The mimicry plants also referred to as mesembs or mimicry succulents are the thespians of the succulent world, mind-blowingly versatile stars typically accustomed to harsh, sun-blasted habitats that get just a few volumes of rain every year.
Mimicry plants grow in coarse sand by just showing their translucent head, making it possible for the sunshine to reach the inside of each plant. The remainder is underground, minimizing direct exposure to severe aspects.
Mimicry plants (living rocks) look like smooth rocks or pebbles. Their native habitats are amongst the toughest worldwide.
There are more than 120 categories of mimicry plants, or mesembs (short for mesembryanthemums), including a number of thousand plant varieties, but succulent fanatics and growers typically concentrate on a handful or 2 among them Lithops, Lapidaria, Fenestraria, Aloinopsis, Pleiospilos, and also Titanopsis.
Description of mimicry plants
Mimicry plants are those that have evolved to resemble other members of their species or surrounding environment in order to protect themselves. There are three different types: Batesian mimicry, Mullerian mimicry, and automimicry. Each type has its own specific evolutionary advantage for the organism.
Batesian mimics give predators a false idea of what the organism is like, scaring them away. The mimicry does not benefit from this type of protection, but its prey that it most closely resembles will be protected.
Mullerian mimics give both themselves and their predators a false sense of security by having two or more species look exactly alike in order to reduce the number of predators.
Automimicry is a behavior that organisms have where they mimic themselves. One example would be the hoverfly, which has black and yellow stripes on its abdomen to look like a bee in order to scare away birds. In automimicry, both members benefit from this type of protection because it can save each other’s lives.
Lithops as mimicry plant succulent
Lithops is a small genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family. The name comes from Greek lithos, meaning “stone,” opsis meaning “appearance” or, literally, “sight.” This reference to rocks and stones refers to their often reddish, rocky desert-like appearance.
The lithops, also known as pebble plants or living stones, are a genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family. Lithops have evolved to resemble rocks and pebbles both above ground and below it for protection from predators such as birds and insects. These plants live in the deserts of southern Africa and South America. The stone-like color and texture help them blend into their surroundings.
Even much better, Lithops types are nicknamed “butts” and also Fenestraria is nicknamed “baby toes”. Those peculiar little piggies and succulent bottoms, with split rocks (Pleiospilos spp.) and other mimicry plants, are a few of one of the most drought-tolerant plants on the earth.
Simply provide what they need, which is not all that much — they thrive in environments of brilliant light, low moisture, and little to no frost.
Mimicry plants is another name for a plant that has evolved leaves and stems shaped like other objects. This helps the plant to escape detection by insects and in some cases, even hunters or animals looking for food.
Added pumice or perlite offers superb drainage. Water thoroughly when soil is completely dry throughout the active growing season. Some of these are rather forgiving of frost, but we advise offering security for all.
15 types of mimicry plants
Mimicry plants 1 – Lithops spp. (living rocks)
Lithops (succulents living stones) are succulents that have evolved to look like pebbles or rocks. This helps them avoid being eaten by animals, as they blend into their surroundings. Their leaves are thick and fused, with a waxy coating. This helps them survive in dry conditions. Their flowers also look like pebbles, unlike most other succulents that have brightly colored blooms. Lithops are native to South Africa.
They are a very interesting case of mimicry. Lithops look remarkably like pebbles and have evolved to blend in with their surroundings, thus becoming protected from herbivores who may trample them or eat them.
The epiphytic bromeliad Brocchinia reducta is a great example of mimicry with animals. It has developed deep red coloration and even shapes to imitate the inflorescences of young Tillandsias, which are visited by hummingbirds for nectar.
Mimicry plants 2 – Fenestraria auriantiaca (Baby toes)
Fenestraria auriantiaca, also known as baby toes succulents or window plant, is a small perennial succulent with origins in South Africa. These little plants are easy to take care of and propagate easily from cuttings. They can even grow new leaves when they break apart!
This plant looks like a tiny green star and has the ability to grow upright. Baby toes will sprout small pinkish-white flowers in clusters on top of the cactus during springtime when it is around six months old.
Some varieties of the baby toes plant include: ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Giant Hairy Legs.’
Mimicry plants 3 – Pleiospilos nelii ‘Royal Flush’
The Royal Flush plant “Pleiospilos nelii” is part of the Mesemb family, which are native to South Africa. The plant grows well in USDA zones nine through eleven and needs full sunlight for at least six hours each day. A great way to support this type of mimicry is by using an African violet potting mix as its growing medium.
Many species of plants mimic other plant structures, such as rocks and leaves. Mimicry is a form of camouflage that helps these organisms avoid predators or parasites. Some species of succulents found in the genus Pleiospilos are examples of mimicry plants. Pleiospilos is native to South Africa.
Mimicry plants 4 – Titanopsis calcareum
Titanopsis calcareum is sometimes called the “stone plant” because of its resemblance to stones. This South African native prefers partial shade and sandy, well-drained soil in which it can form small mounds about six inches tall. It is a winter grower, so it’s best to move the plant outside in late spring when night temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
This plant is a bromeliad that looks like limestone or chalk. The leaves of the Titanopsis calcareum are green with pinkish spots and its flowers have a blue-purple color. It can grow in two different habitats: dry, shaded areas on rock edges; and damp forest floors where they will attach themselves to the limestone rocks.
Titanopsis calcareum is found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Mimicry plants 5 – Lapidaria margaretae (Karoo rose)
The Karoo rose (Lapidaria margaretae) is a species of succulent plant belonging to the Aizoaceae family. It can be found in South Africa and Namibia, where it lives mostly on limestone slopes or koppies. The leaves are covered by white dots that look like water drops, but if you touch them, you will find that they are like little hairs.
This South African succulent is known for its unique leaves that grow in a spiral shape around the stem. The plant’s common name “Karoo rose” comes from its resemblance to roses, which are grown mostly in arid regions throughout the world.
Mimicry plants 6 – Flypaper plant (Mirabilis jalapa)
The flypaper plant is a wonderfully weird mimicry plant. It looks like it is covered in flies! The leaves of this tropical perennial have veins that look just like the insects’ wings, legs, and bodies. These plants are not carnivores- they can’t trap or eat their prey. Instead, these mimicry plants simply scare away or mimic their prey. The insects are fooled into thinking that the flypaper plant is a predator, and they stay away!
Mimicry plants 7 – Deceptive unguent plant (Liatris spicata)
The deceptive unguent plant is another mimicry plant, but this time it is faking out insects looking for nectar. This flower doesn’t produce any nectar- instead, it produces a smell that mimics the chemicals secreted by flowers that attract bees and butterflies! The white “nectar secreting glands” on the lip of the flower mimic real nectar secreting glands! This mimicry plant tricks insects into pollinating it, without giving them any reward.
The deceptive unguent plant’s leaves also mimic another species- they mimic poison ivy (Rhus radicans). Poison ivy grows in deciduous forests throughout North America, so this mimicry plant is a great example of Batesian mimicry. The leaves look just like poison ivy- they are yellow-green with three leaflets in an alternating pattern on each side of the central stem.
The mimicry plant fools animals into thinking that it is poison ivy, which can cause rashes and swelling when touched. Since the mimicry plant doesn’t contain any poison, it is completely harmless, but animals won’t know that! The mimicry plant will be left alone and pollinated by those scared critters.
Mimicry plants 8 – Rafflesia arnoldii
Rafflesia arnoldii is a parasitic plant that does not photosynthesize. Instead, it attaches its roots to the roots of other plants and sucks their juices for nourishment. It has no leaves or chlorophyll like most plants do and only flowers once in its lifetime (with some rare exceptions). The flower produced by the parasite is five feet in diameter and has a very strong odor of rotting flesh.
The Rafflesia arnoldii, also known as the corpse flower or titan arum is a species of a parasitic flowering plant. It has the largest individual flower on Earth and it emits the worst odor in this list of mimicry plants. The flowers can measure up to three meters across and weigh more than 11 kg with around 53 million leaves. The plant is so toxic that it even poses a threat to certain animals.
Mimicry plants 9 – Purple false indigo (Ammannia coccinea)
The purple false indigo, also known as scarlet fanwort and fire-on-the-mountain is a flowering plant native to South America. The leaves of this flower mimic the shape of its neighboring plants in order to protect itself from herbivorous insects that eat its leaves instead of attacking one of its own species.
Mimicry plants 10 – White-spotted deerberry (Elaeagnus umbellata)
The white-spotted deerberry is a flowering plant, native to the Eastern United States. In early spring, it produces small yellow flowers and red berries. The leaves have been shown to produce nectar when in excess of what insects need for food. This surplus nectar attracts ants which protect the plants from being eaten by other insects or grazed on by animals.
Mimicry plants 11 – Bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum speciosissimum)
The bleeding heart vine mimicry is a type of climbing plant that has flowers shaped like hearts. This flower species’s leaves are very different from its organ-shaped blooms, however; they are long and thin with light green coloration on the top side and a darker shade underneath.
This plant species is native to the tropical areas of Southeast Asia and has been introduced in North America where it can also be found growing.
Mimicry plants 12 – False sensitive plant (Mimosa diplotricha)
Mimosa diplotricha is a plant native to Brazil, often found in the cerrado region. Mimosa diplotricha has tentacle-like trichomes on its leaves which are said to resemble tiny spiders and have given it another name: “sensitive plant”. This phenomenon occurs when insects touch these tentacles, causing the leaves to fold inward.
Mimicry plants 13 – Venus flytrap
The Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant well-known for its ability to trap insects. It catches them by attracting them with nectar and then trapping the insect in leaves that are specially adapted to close quickly when triggered, preventing escape once it has captured prey. The Venus flytrap is native to the subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Mimicry plants 14 – Wolf-of-the-woods mushroom
Also known as the “sheep polypore” or “straw mushroom”, this fungus has a cap that is typically between six and eighteen inches wide. The wolf-of-the woods mushroom forms symbiotic relationships with trees such as oaks, poplars, beeches, and pines. Its fruiting body grows rapidly after heavy rainfall and can be used as a food source by humans.
The wolf-of-the woods mushroom is native to North America and Europe.
Mimicry plants 15 – Monkey Orchid
Monkey orchids are native to the rainforests of South America. They don’t look like most other flowers, but that hasn’t stopped them from attracting insects! When they first open up in the morning, they smell like ripe fruit and release a taste for nectar.
The insect is tricked into thinking it has found an easy meal. The monkey orchid actually traps the insect inside its flower, where it is completely at home! The insect thinks it’s in a safe area and goes to sleep. Once the insect is asleep, the orchid can absorb food and nutrients from its body through small openings on its petals!
The rare monkey orchid was discovered in Peru in 1878 by Fritz Müller after he observed one of these amazing flowers with his own eyes.
What Are Mimicry Succulents?
Mimicry succulents are plants that look like other things. They evolved to protect themselves from predators and insects by looking just like another object in their environment. This evolutionary tactic is called mimicry – the ability of one species to imitate another, or a natural phenomenon for self-defense. A good type of mimicry succulents is the snake plant.
The snake plant is named for its leaves, which are long and narrow with serrated edges. They look just like snake scales! They grow in a rosette shape out of the soil. A mature one can have up to 30 different rosettes growing from it at once, creating an impressive display. When grown indoors they do not grow as tall, but can live for decades.
How to propagate mimicry succulents?
Mimicry succulents are easy to grow from leaf cuttings. Find a healthy, large-leafed mimicry plant and snap off the leaves with your hands or scissors. Place each of these on dry soil in an area that will get partial sun during most hours of the day (morning is best).
It’s important to let the leaves dry out before you place them on the soil. The mimicry plant should start new roots within a few weeks, and then can be transplanted into larger containers or outdoors in your garden after hardening off (a process of getting used to outdoor conditions slowly).
How to care for mimicry succulents
Mimicry plant care isn’t too difficult as long as you keep them in a warm environment where they receive plenty of light!
Mimicry succulents, like everything else in the plant world, do best with a little love and attention. Mimicry plants should be watered regularly; they cannot survive extended periods of drought. If you’re growing your mimicry succulents indoors (and all-around southern California), it’s important to keep them near a sunny window for at least a few hours per day.
Mimicry plants are also susceptible to pests, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any insects or slugs that might be munching on your mimicry succulents leaves!
If you’re growing your mimicry plants outside, they should receive bright sunlight and moderate water until the soil is completely dry. Mimicry succulents can also be planted in a pot or planter, but it’s important to make sure the container drains well and has adequate space for root growth!
Mimicry cactus plants are really easy to grow under bright sunlight! They need moderate watering when growing indoors. In general, they prefer warm conditions of the greenhouse. The mimicry cactus can be propagated by seeds, but it is hard to do so and the success rate is low.
Three-fold are the most distinctive aspects of mimicry succulent care:
- High light,
- Low tide, and
- Low humidity.
The worst hazard to the health of these succulent plants is overwatering, which occurs when too much water drains from the root system and seeps into the surrounding soil. Some mimicry succulents, like Notiocaulaceae, prefer not to be watered for months at a time rather than drawing on their own water reserves to create new growth.
An Exception – Faucaria
There is one exception to the rule that a plant should not have water because it can get too much. Faucaria ‘Tiger Jaws’ is a plant with a dense clumping growth pattern, and it can have more than two leaves. You still need to water it, but you don’t have to worry about it.
The leaves on this plant are long and pointy. They look like a cat’s mouth. But they are soft and safe to touch. The leaves help collect water for the plant in its dry landscape in its native country.
This exception is a part, in general, all mimicry succulents share the same requirement. Which is to have very little organic matter in their soil mix. They want a cactus mix with gritty and porous elements like perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.
You should not fertilize these plants. If you do, they will grow fast and it will make them rot.