I started this series to share disgusting plants—and typically we focus on plants that look like Lovecraftian monstrosities or those that ooze blood. Why? Well, because occasionally it’s nice to be reminded that real life is often weirder than fiction and nature can be just as (or more) disgusting than anything I dream up.

Today, however, I’m going to deviate away from the genuinely revolting, and instead focus on the strange. If we’re sticking with the horror theme, this plant would be the Gizmo of the plant world, or perhaps the Exogorth. Weird, maybe unsettling, and possibly bordering on cute… yep, I’m talking about Lithops.

Photographed by Egor V. Pasko – private collection of Ivan I. Boldyrev – CC BY-SA 3.0

Doesn’t it just look so happy? It’s like someone told it a joke. Sometimes these are called pebble plants or living rocks, and the reasoning is clear. These little succulents have fused leaves that allow them to camouflage themselves among stones—and occasionally they also look like goofy little puppets. So, you can see why I compared them to the adorable side of terror. (By the way, did you know Howie Mandel was the voice of Gizmo? No? Well, now you do!) Originally from southern Africa, these little pals have become a popular house plant over the years, and you can often find them at nurseries alongside their fellow succulents all over the world.

There are a great many varieties—well over thirty, and if I’m honest, they sprout some delightful blossoms. The “grossest” is probably Lithops verruculosa but even that variant with its little warts isn’t that disgusting. Perhaps “Garden of Horrors” isn’t the right classification for these cute little buggers. They’re weird but not horrible. If they’re anything, they’re very rude. Here’s a time-lapse of a lithops sticking its flower-tongue out at you.

Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m grasping at straw with this one. These plants are adorable. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled horror-plants on the next installment of Garden of Horrors. Until then, happy gardening.

(Featured Image: “lithops” by Robin Kramer)

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