Have you ever noticed that some of your favorite houseplants are named after animals? It’s fun to see the similarities between the plants and the animals they were named after. Join me as we explore 11 plants with animal names and their physical characteristics.
1. Alocasia Dragons
First on our list, we’ve got three dragons. We usually think of the mythical creatures from movies and television, when we hear the word dragon. However, the San Diego Zoo reminds us that the Komodo Dragon is very real. Those grow up to 10 feet in length and are the largest living lizards in the world.
I’m pretty sure the Alocasia plants above were named dragons, because their leaves resembled the scales of the mythical dragons, but nonetheless we’ll still count them as plants named after an animal. The Alocasia Silver Dragon and Alocasia Maharani Grey Dragon have beautiful, thick leaves with fascinating detail.
The Alocasia Pink Dragon also has gorgeous leaves, but they aren’t as thick and are probably better known for their pink stems.
Any of these dragons would be a great addition to your plant collection. The dragon Alocasia plants are fairly easy to take care for, and you’ll be admiring their leaves for a long time.
2. Cobra Fern
Cobras are venomous snakes that extend the hood around their neck when threatened. The Cobra Fern gets its name, because the fronds resemble a cobra snake.
Fairly low maintenance, the Cobra Fern is a unique-looking and beautiful houseplant. The fronds are very hearty and thick. You will likely receive compliments or questions about your eye-catching plant when people come over to visit.
3. Donkey’s Tail
The Donkey’s Tail is a succulent that has trailing stems with bead-like leaves. Often grown in a hanging basket, those stems are reminiscent of an actual tail of a donkey.
This plant is easy to care for, especially if you can find a nice sunny spot for it. Just be careful when touching or moving it, as the leaves have a tendency to fall off. If they do fall off, those beady leaves can be put on top of dirt with a little water, and they will slowly start to root and grow into new plants.
4. Rabbit’s Foot Fern
The Rabbit’s Foot Fern gets its name from the fuzzy rhizomes that grow above the dirt. I found a few at Ko’olau Farmers in Kailua.
These very unique looking plants always creeped me out as a child. My mother had one of these plants, and I always thought there were real rabbit’s feet in there! I probably won’t be adding one to my collection anytime soon.
5. Snake Plant
Looking for a plant that is hard to kill and will multiply and grow when given the right conditions? The Snake Plant is for you! With long, tall leaves that resemble the body of a snake, this plant is very hard to kill.
I’ve had one in my office for years. It hangs out by the window, and it went for months without water during the pandemic. Obviously it needs water and some sunlight, but it won’t die quickly if you neglect it a bit.
I found the Snake Plant pictured above at Foodland Kahala MKT. among their great plant selection. They look great in your house when there’s several leaves in a pot.
6. Staghorn Fern
The Staghorn Fern was named for its resemblance to the antlers of a male deer. These stunning epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants, trees, etc.), are often mounted on wood when grown as a houseplant. This helps to mimic the way they grow on trees outdoors.
I purchased the small staghorn on the left at Mari’s Urban Garden in Honolulu. The large staghorn on the right was spotted at Ko’olau Farmers in Kailua.
7. Starfish Sansevieria
With arms reaching out, you can easily see how this succulent looks just like a starfish in a pot. I was drawn to this plant because of its unique shape and the dark green circles that appear to wrap around each arm of it.
This plant is easy to care for, and I think mine will grow much larger when I eventually upgrade it to a bigger pot.
8. Alocasia Stingray
With the pointy “tail” and outstretched “pectoral fins” on these beautiful plants, you can see how they strongly resemble a stingray.
These plants can grow quite large and are fairly easy to take care of. Side note: it’s quite exciting to see the baby stingrays unfurl when new leaves appear.
9. String of Dolphins
The tiny dolphins on the trailing stems of this succulent are just plain cute! They will remind you of the ocean whenever you look at them.
I will admit that I have been guilty of killing a few of these plants. I can never get the watering and sun right. I tend to overwater, which is really bad for succulents. Hopefully I’ll get it right one of these days. I can’t resist trying over and over again on replacement plants, because the dolphins are just too adorable!
10. String of Turtles
You can see the tiny shells of turtles when looking at a String of Turtles. Dainty and delicate, I’ve been told again and again to resist the urge to water this one. It’s another succulent that can be sensitive to too much watering.
I bought this one at Plant Hawaii on the Windward side of O’ahu. I think any of the string plants make great “hair” for a head planter like the one pictured above.
11. Zebra Plant
We’ve made it to the final plant on the list. It’s pretty easy to see that this plant was named Zebra Plant because of its stunning stripes. The shiny, eye-catching leaves will always be a showstopper.
I received this plant as a gift for Christmas. Named for its stripes, it’s also popular because it makes beautiful flowers, too.
There you have it! My round up of 11 plants with animal names. This list is far from comprehensive. Feel free to drop your favorite “animal plant” in the comments below. If you’re interested in more plants, check out 7 Plants with Heart Shaped Leaves.
I also have a great set of 10 Houseplant Coloring Pages you can check out on Etsy. It comes with a free companion E-book with lots of great information about the featured houseplants!