Stop Picking Carnivorous Penis Plants Just for Silly Photos

In “we can’t believe this needs to be said” news, the Cambodian government asks that people not pick phallic flowers just so they can take photos with them. The Ministry of Environment posted the request on its Facebook page, along with stills from a video shared on social media. In them, three women pick the plants and pose with them.

Previously, the government put out a notice to bring awareness to the issue. Hopefully, the recent posts going viral will put an end to the destructive behavior. The plants were already at risk before people started posing with them. They live in very limited areas that are threatened by development. 

A pitcher plant in Cambodia looks like a penis and is threatened by people who pick them for photos
Cambo Hobbies

We saw the news on Live Science. Among other news outlets—even The New York Times picked up the story. People disagree about what species of pitcher plant is in the video. There are a few in the group Nepenthes that have similar traits and people are still finding new species. All are protected species and should not be picked. Selfies with these beautiful plants are fine, but picking them is obviously destructive. But just like with penis fish, people can’t seem to stop taking pictures of them.

The carnivorous pitcher plant attracts prey like ants by providing nectar on the lid and rim of the pitcher. Ants fall down the inside of the slippery shaft and into digestive juices. This provides food to the plant. The lid closes to trap food inside and that is when it looks most phallic. It also doesn’t help that the official descriptions of pitcher plants include terms like veins and ribs. 

Here’s hoping people who come across these penis fly traps in the future will be respectful. Please don’t pick an endangered species just for a photo. Lean in close and snap a selfie instead for that dick pic instead. No touching needed.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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