We spend a lot of time here at Cracked pointing out horrors of nature that slither on the land and lurch through the sea. But staying under the radar in nature's landscape of nightmares is the twisted carnival of things that grow out of the ground.
#10. Bleeding Tooth Fungus
The bleeding tooth fungus looks kind of like a wad of chewing gum that leaks blood like a rejected prop from The Shining.
They're also called the strawberries and cream, the red-juice tooth, and the devil's tooth. Whoever is in charge of naming scary bullshit seems really insistent that this thing looks like a tooth, while mostly skirting over the fact that it freaking sweats blood.
Oh, and they are listed as "inedible," which implies that someone attempted to eat one at some point. On the other hand, the bloodlike substance has anticoagulant and antibacterial properties. It's nature's next penicillin! All you have to do is lick it. Go ahead.
#9. Chinese Black Batflowers
There's a good reason that Batman uses bat imagery to strike terror into the hearts of Gotham's criminals, rather than, say, some kind of shrew. Bats are freakin' scary. For the same reason, nature has decided to use that same mold to make plants that can induce spontaneous bowel movements, with the addition of some tentacles just to be sure, like we have on the Chinese black batflowers.
It is kept as an ornamental plant by gardeners who prefer to cultivate nightmares, and have the balls to live in the presence of a plant that looks like it crawled out of a Bosch painting and wants to plant its young in their head.
Their dangling fruit even looks like bats sleeping upside down, as pictured here ...
... and here ...
Oh, sorry that last one was an actual bat. Though you can't tell the difference until you get to the bottom, by which point it's far too late.
#8. Doll's Eye
At best, this thing looks like the plants you'd find on some hostile alien world. At worst, it looks like eyeballs on bloody stalks, tied together by their stems like the deranged trophy of some serial killer, used to mark the grave of half a dozen victims.
It's called the doll's eye plant, also known by the equally unsettling name "white baneberry." Just in case you were actually thinking of eating this thing, those eyeballs are highly poisonous. Obviously.
#7. Sea Anemone Mushroom/Octopus Stinkhorn
We tend to think that pretty much all fungi came out of God's adolescent goth phase. Sure, some mushrooms look cute and taste good on pizza, but many of them look more like the dog-beast from The Thing and smell like a rotten asshole. For instance, we have the sea anemone mushroom above and the similar-yet-horrifying-in-a-different-way octopus stinkhorn below:
Both are closely related and smell about as pleasant as they look. Would you believe both are from Australia? We weren't surprised either.
They start out looking like traditional Mario-style 'shrooms, but that's just so they can gain your trust. Once they mature, they "erupt" their red tentacles of smelly horror to attract flies, which then transport their "gleba" to another location to reproduce, which is about the closest thing to the plot of a Lovecraft story that you'll find in reality.
Seriously, Hugh Jackman is cool and all, but fuck Australia.
#6. Devil's Claw
Devil's claws are kind of like those little thistle burs that get stuck to your clothes when you walk through a field, except instead of being tiny, mild annoyances, they look more like some unholy spider beast from some twisted American McGee version of our childhood. They come from Arizona, where they are used by Native Americans to weave baskets and likely as a ward for enemies who are probably smart enough to stay the fuck away from anything that looks like a minefield of headcrabs:
The horrifying seed pods are designed to latch on to the feet of passing animals, which will then transport them to another location before crushing them underfoot and releasing the seeds.
Funny how nature knew people would stomp the shit out of that after finding it on their feet; evolution is kind of intuitive sometimes.