Science & nature

Rambutan | Unusual fruit from around the world

Rambutan | Unusual fruit from around the world

A rambutan is a soft, white-fleshed fruit (similar to a lychee) covered in a red spiny skin. The word rambutan is Indonesian for “hairy”. This is fine as a description of how it looks, but really needs something more to make it clear that they’re talking about a fruit – the tree that the rambutans grow on is also called rambutan (and that isn’t even hairy) so there’s bound to be some confusion.

Noni | Unusual fruit from around the world

Noni | Unusual fruit from around the world

A noni is a type of mulberry, but one which is far too ugly to have a handbag named after it. The fruit can reach up to 18cm long and looks like some kind of gross, larval blob – like it might suddenly split open and a horrible insect will climb out and fly towards you.

Cobra lily: The meat-eating plant that looks like a snake

Cobra lily: The meat-eating plant that looks like a snake

Most plants are vegetarian, but for others a diet of mud and photosynthesis just isn’t enough. Whether because of a simple craving for meat or (more likely) because of a lack of nutrients in the soil, some plants have turned carnivorous and started devouring the surrounding wildlife. One such meat-eater is the cobra lily, a type of pitcher plant native to California and Oregon.

Telegraph plant | The world’s fastest plants

Telegraph plant | The world’s fastest plants

Plants aren’t usually thought of as very fast moving – they stay in one place, almost completely still, occasionally drooping over if you forget to water them. In some cases, however, plants can be amazingly quick; grabbing hold of insects, shooting out their seeds or spinning their leaves round to get a suntan.