When we came across Calathea crotalifera on a recent hike through a dense local jungle, our eye first went to its core, densely clustered with honey yellow blooms, then to its majestic canopy of broad leaves rising overhead. The beautiful rattlesnake calathea, native to central America, is what jungle dreams are made of, and its one of our favorite plants for arrangements.
The flowers really do look like rattles. They even have the flexibility of a snake, (yes on occasion we play with our flowers), and dry into delicate ruffled forms. For a minimal arrangement pair them with a sturdy green leaf such as hala; for something more ornate, mix them into a colorful arrangement as an accent bloom.
The leaves don’t hold up in water, but they dry beautifully, twisting, scrunching, and fading until resembling silk. We’re still marveling at the grace of dried calathea leaves and blooms we harvested over six months ago. Find Rattlesnake Calathea blooms at our flower bar, and try growing your own plant for the leaves. Olomana Tropicals, often at farmers markets, carries starters.
Photos by Kenna Reed, Story by Tamara Rigney