Public urged to stop picking ‘penis plant’ by Cambodian government
The government in Cambodia has pleaded with the public to stop picking an endangered carnivorous plant dubbed the “penis plant” due to its unusual resemblance to genitalia.
A video of three women picking and posing with the phallic-like plants issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment quickly went viral.
“What they are doing is wrong and please don’t do it again,” pleaded officials, just one year after issuing a similar warning to ensure the plants do not go extinct.
“Thank you for loving natural resources, but don’t harvest so it goes to waste!”
Despite the positive message encouraging conservation, most people just saw the funny side of the plants, with some drawing comparisons to South Korea’s “penis park”, which contains statues, totem poles and wind chimes resembling penises, designed to inspire fertility in the country.
The plants in question – often nicknamed “penis plants” or “penis flytraps” – are carnivorous; their jug-like bodies contain an acidic fluid at the bottom, which they use to devour any insects that fall inside.
The penis plants attract flies and other insects to the brim of the plant with nectar, with the insects then getting stuck, falling in, and being eaten up by the digestive liquid inside.
François Mey, a botanical illustrator, told Live Science that the species in question was likely a Nepenthes bokorensis native to Cambodia, which is critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List. And while it’s fine to pose with them, picking them could harm the already endangered plant.
“If people are interested, even in a funny way, to pose, to make selfies with the plants, it’s fine,” Mey said.
“Just do not pick the pitchers because it weakens the plant, because the plant needs these pitchers to feed.”