The Cambodian government wants people to stop picking a rare carnivorous plant that looks oddly like a penis.
The Cambodian Ministry of Environment shared images in a Facebook post of a group of three women holding the carnivorous plants and posing with them. Their full post read: “What they are doing is wrong and please don’t do it again in the future! Thank you for loving natural resources, but don’t harvest so it goes to waste!”
This isn’t the first time the ministry has asked tourists not to pick the plants. In July 2021, they warned that the human activity surrounding these plants could drive them to extinction. Tourists can easily pose for photos beside these phallic-shaped plants instead of outright picking and disposing of them once they’re done with them.
These plants, which actually go by the name Nepenthes bokorensis, only grow on nearby mountain ranges. They survive in low-nutrient soil by supplementing their diet with live insects, using their nectar and a sweet scent to attract prey.
Insects will feed on the nectar around the mouth of the plants’ leaves that resemble pitchers. When insects fall into the pitchers, they drown in the fluids and the plants absorb their nutrients. It’s when the plant leaves are still developing that they most look like penises.