Plants that look like stars abound and range from star-shaped fruit and seeds to flowers in the shape of stars or plants that grows in the shape of a star. Humans are drawn to these beautiful and unusual plants. Whether you are a collector of certain plant varieties or enjoy including unusual plants in your home and garden, nature provides a varied buffet of plants that look like stars.
Star-shaped plants grow in every imagined habitat, so a plant with star-shaped features is likely available to suit your home or garden. From unusual and exotic to regular garden plants, the options are boundless. Let’s find a plant that looks like a star to suit your needs.
1. Shark’s Tooth Crassula
Shark’s tooth Crassula (Crassula capitella subsp. thyrsiflora), also called red pagoda, is one of two hundred species of succulents in the Crassulaceae plant family. Crassula plants have become native to many areas of the globe, but the Eastern Cape in South Africa is home to most varieties in this family.
The thick leaves of shark’s tooth Crassula plants form a four-pointed star pattern. Leaves appear to be stacked along the length of the branch, with larger leaves lower on the plant. Leave progressively become smaller as they reach the tip of the branch.
Stems of the shark’s tooth Crassula grow around eight inches long and bear small white flowers from summer into fall. As shark’s tooth Crassulas age, the leaves change from light green to red, creating a beautiful display of green and red stars. If winters are not too cold, the easy-to-grow Crassulas will thrive outdoors or will happily grow indoors in a sunny spot.
2. Romanesco Cauliflower
The Romanesco cauliflower is the edible floral bud of the Brassica oleracea plant. Unlike regular cauliflower, the Romanesco variety has star-shaped protrusions arranged in a spiral pattern to form the head or bud.
A repeating arrangement of multiple star-shaped florets is arranged in a spiral to make up the head of this yellow-green cauliflower. This cool-weather vegetable is healthy, fun to grow, and a talking point at any dinner table.
When discussing this interesting vegetable, be sure to mention that the repeating pattern that forms the Romanesco star pattern is a fractal, and the number of spirals that make up this cauliflower head is a Fibonacci sequence.
Related: 5 Plants That Look Like Broccoli
3. Star Fruit
Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) is also called Carambola and is a popular fruit in its native tropical region of Southeast Asia. Carambola is a member of the Oxalidaceae plant family, which consists of five hundred and seventy species. Star fruit thrive in a warm climate and have naturalized in tropical areas around the globe.
As the name indicates, the fruit is shaped like a star when cut in half. The fruit ranges from two to six inches in length with an oval shape and five to seven ribs that create the star pattern. The star fruit tree is slow growing and can reach thirty feet.
The fragrant, lilac-colored flowers of the star fruit are arranged in clusters. Star fruit is yellow to orange in color, and the taste is likened to pears, grapes, or citrus fruit. The star fruit tree bears up to four crops annually, ensuring an abundant supply of this superfood all year round. Star fruit can be eaten fresh off the tree or cooked as a preserve, a relish, or chutney. You can even make star fruit wine.
4. Hatchet Cactus
The hatchet cactus (Pelecyphora aselliformis) is also called the woodlouse cactus and is a member of the Cactaceae plant family. This plant is oval in shape and grows to about four inches in height. The slow-growing hatchet cactus is covered in flat elongated spines. The woodlouse-shaped spines are arranged in a star pattern that covers the entire body of the cactus.
Hatchet cacti are native to Mexico, growing at high elevations in course soil rich in limestone. If your hatchet cactus gets enough bright sunlight, you will be rewarded with a bright pink flower late in summer. Hatchet cacti grow below shrubs in their natural habitat to avoid the harsh midday sun.
Hatchet can be grown from seed, but most cultivated plants available at nurseries are propagated by grafting. Hatchet cacti also produce pups or offsets, which can be rooted to produce a new plant.
Related: 5 Plants That Look Like Cactus
5. Star Anise
Star anise (Illicium verum) is a member of the Schisandraceae plant family native to Asia, parts of the United States, and the Caribbean. Star anise derives its name from the star-shaped fragrant seed casing inside the fruit.
Star anise trees can grow as tall as twenty-six feet with a spread of around ten feet but are easy to trim to a more manageable shrub-like plant. Star anise plants are evergreen, heat-loving, and thrive in moist soils or on a marsh verge. These fast-growing plants form excellent fragrant hedges.
While the leaves of the plant are fragrant, only the seed pods are used for seasoning. The fragrance and taste are similar to anise or licorice. Star anise is used to flavor meat dishes and curries. It is used to make tea, flavor liqueurs, and for use in baked goods. Star anise is even added to coffee to enhance the flavor.
Star anise is used to produce antiviral medications in addition to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
6. Earth Stars
Earth stars (Cryptanthus) are members of the Bromeliaceae plant family and endemic to Brazil. There are sixty recognized earth star species available, all displaying the characteristic whorl of leaves, arranged like a star, leading to the plant name.
Earth stars vary in color and size depending on the species. Smaller varieties grow to a mature size of three inches, while larger varieties can reach three feet in height. Earth stars’ leaves vary in color and texture. Leaves may have a solid color or could be variegated or mottled. Colors include green, grey, yellow, pink, and white. Often these colors are found in combination.
Earth star plants grow in soil, unlike some of their air plant Bromeliad relatives. Earth stars are easily grown indoors in indirect light. An earth star plant enjoys a humid environment and humus-rich soil. Once your earth star has bloomed, the mother plant will start to die back, but not before producing a pup or young plantlet that may be separated to start a new plant to replace it.
7. African Starfish Flowers
Plants known as African starfish flowers are members of the Stapelia genus. Starfish flowers are members of the diverse Apocynaceae plant family. African starfish flowers are stem-succulent plants lacking leaves and are native to arid regions of Southern Africa.
As the name indicates, these plants produce large star-shaped flowers, with some varieties forming blooms as large as sixteen inches. African starfish flowers are unusual as they are extremely hairy and produce a strong odor likened to rotting flesh.
Flowers vary in color from cream to purple or red, often with bands or a mottles pattern on the flowers. Sometimes called the carrion flower, Stapelias produce a rotting odor to attract flies and ants for pollination.
African starfish flowers grow in arid conditions, requiring well-drained soil with minimal water in summer and no water throughout the winter months. In cold climates, the starfish flower will need to be moved indoors as it is sensitive to cold weather. Starfish flowers are easy to grow from seed or from cuttings.
African starfish flowers are an unusual addition to your garden, and while the flowers do not have a pleasant odor, they require close contact to smell the scent.