Every plant has he same basic life cycle. It’s born as a seed, germinates – or grows – into a seedling when conditions are right, flowers, produces fruit with seeds for reproduction, and the end of the life cycle is death. Seems pretty ordinary, right? Maybe not. Some plants’ life cycles have evolved in weird and wonderful ways… some more on the weird side. The pattern, or the order in which the stages occur, is the same… but within those stages, over long periods of time, things can change.From producing the largest, smelliest flower on earth to seed pods that blast open to living stones that blossom, plants have made some amazing adaptations to survive… in other words, to keep their life cycle going. Take the Cannonball tree, native to rainforests of South and Central AmericaIt’s been known to have been growing on our planet for about three-thousand years. No wonder it’s different from other trees. Think of how many life cycles that is… three-thousand years! Let’s look at the way the tree flowers – and where. On the trunk of the tree – not exactly common. Some experts say that was a way cannonball trees adapted to the rainforest, a place where more pollinators – like bees, other insects and birds, tend to be closer to ground level. Another wacky thing about Cannonball flowers is that they have no nectar. Huh? No problem. These flowers make up for it by producing extra pollen… most of it for pollination, where a pollinator, like a bee, transfers pollen from one plant to another, leading to fertilization and new seeds.The fruit looks kind of like a coconut, and it can be up to 10 inches in diameter, weigh several pounds and hold up to five-hundred seeds. When it drops, it explodes, making a noise that sounds, yep, a lot like a cannonball. And when cannonball fruit explodes, it doesn’t smell so good. But… that smell happens to attract the animals that eat the fruit and carry the seeds on to continue the life cycle. The Rafflesia, also known as Corpse flower, is another example of how a stinky flower can be a good thing! The Rafflesia flower smells a lot like dead fish, smelly feet and cheese that makes you hold your nose. Just like the cannonball fruit, the smell of the Rafflesia flowers attract the flies, beetles and other insects needed for pollination. Once pollination happens and the plant has fruit, it gets rid of its seeds to reproduce. They can drop to the ground. They can be carried by the wind…… even an animal’s fur! The Sandbox tree had a different idea. Its seeds grow into a tiny pod. When that pod gets dry enough or is touched by an animal, it pops open, flinging seeds out in every direction. It’s an odd way of carrying on the life cycle, but it works for the sandbox tree. So, you see, plants can make adaptations – very surprising ones – without changing the basic life cycle.