Fishtail palm

what if
ivy swam in the seas?
mulch, shell, sand

I visited Detroit’s Belle Isle on a blisteringly hot day in July. Naturally, to seek reprieve from the heat I entered the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. The humid air enveloped me as I wandered through the vegetation. As my eyes shifted from the thermometer reading above 35 degrees centigrade I saw a placard with the words “fishtail palm”.

Fishtail palms are named for the plant’s leaves which are thought to resemble a fish’s tail or caudal fin. One might argue the leaves have more of a frayed, pectoral-fin look. The fishtail palm’s flower is magnificently ornate and did remind me of the elongated fins of the veiltail Siamese fighting fish. Regardless, a new curiosity had been sparked; what other aquatic themes are coupled to plant names?

1. Shark Bite
A succulent plant in the Agave genus. Sharkskin Shoes, Little Shark, Mako Shark, and Great White Shark variants also exist.

2. Turtlehead
A wildflower from the Figwort family. The genus name Chelone translates to tortoise in Greek.

3. Shrimp plant
An evergreen with flowers that resemble a shrimp’s abdomen and tail.

4. Sea urchin hakea
Native to Australia, this plant is exactly what you would imagine if a shrub were to flower sea urchins.

5. Flying Goldfish
A lovely display of fiery-coloured, fish-shaped flowers leaping into the air.