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  • Writer's pictureMartha Iserman

The Black Bat Flower

Tacca chantrieri

AKA: Bat Flower, Cat’s Whiskers, Devil Flower, Phon Men (Lao), Tiger's Mustache

Attention all Hot Topic shoppers, this is the goth plant of your dreams! The Black Bat Flower.

Beyond its striking appearance, there isn't a lot of danger in this little plant. But what it lacks in menace it makes up for in drama. Not only is it one of the few plants that are naturally black in color, but it also has large petals that look like wings extending behind the flowers. In addition, it has long filaments called bracteoles that extend from its center, giving the appearance of cat whiskers. So if Batman and Catwoman had a plant baby (which would be one of the more dynamic DC characters. )

The Bat Flower grows naturally in the understory of tropical rainforests in Southern China, India, and Southeast Asia, and is part of the Yam family (Holla to my Yam Fam!). It likes it shady, and wet and is very particular with its temperature requirements. In short, it's a diva, which makes it the perfect goth icon.

TBF has been used for various medicinal purposes by the Hmong people and the Traditional Medicine Research Center has registered it for its phytotherapy healing properties.

It has a larger, more sensitive cousin the White Bat Plant (Tacca integrifolia), but to be honest, it doesn't really pack the same punch as its darker relative. Would you rather hang with the sad-sack Ariel or with Ursula the bad-ass, eel adjacent sea witch?


In keeping with its Goth Goddess status, it has a few superstitions associated with it. Allegedly, the evil eye will haunt you if you spend too much one on one time with it. It needs its emotional space apparently. Also, watching it too closely for too long will result in the death of a close relative, so keep your staring to a minimum. I'd say 20 minutes, tops.

I have boundaries

If you're ok with timing your interactions with this flower, it can be purchased and grown at home, though it's pretty finicky. It needs a very specific humid atmosphere and doesn't like greenhouses due to the lack of breeze.

So set up a oscillating fan in your vampire themed orangery and give this guy some space and you'll have a moody plant friend for life!

So what do you think? Is it DOPE? Or a NOPE?

Do you agree on the outcome of the Duck Death Match? Comment with your thoughts!!!


  • bracteoles-a small bract especially on a floral axis

  • phytotherapy-the use of plant-derived medications in the treatment and prevention of disease

  • Black Bat Plant (Tacca chantrieri) - Plant Profile - Oxley Nursery, Brisbane. (n.d.). Oxley Nursery.

  • Tacca chantrieri. (2022, March 23). In Wikipedia.

  • de Groot, J. (2019, September 26). The black bat flower. Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden.



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