In a collection of otherworldly plants and flowers, digital artist Ondrej Zunka distorts the anatomy of botanical specimens into spiraling shapes and unusual textures. Titled The Fleur, Zunka’s renderings imagine 21 ethereal species—on his site, you can use a digital magnifying glass to view each work up close—that explores how all living creatures need biological variety in order to survive. “Habitats thrive with a diversity of plants that form complex communities, who both depend on and compete with one another in a natural symbiosis,” he says.
Zunker bases each creation on a real species, all chosen for their interesting qualities that he exaggerates or ascribes unearthly characteristics. One of the plants has delicate pistils that can’t germinate pollen if exposed to frost, while another only blooms once every 40 to 50 years. The peony-like “Toxic Exaryum,” for example, is described as having “a complex scent: its petals smell musky and sweet” and spherical growths that release “acidic compounds into the ground as they decompose.” Evoking a poppy, “Vomitus flos” is defined by its long, protective hair, while strange “The Odorata Cinere” has fringed petals in an ashy color.
One of Zunka’s main focuses is to reinvent the reproductive structure of plants, how their vibrant colors, scents, and nectar are intended to seduce insects during the pollination process. In some of his specimens, the stamen and stigma are elongated and twist out of flowers to create forms that ought to be part of another world. “They bloom only briefly, and only under the right conditions, making flowers an expensive resource for a plant to produce,” Zunka says. “It is my wish that these flowers inspire us to look for guidance in the infinitely beautiful and intelligent natural world. There is a lesson for us all there—in the way habitats always manage to remain balanced and functioning despite the chaotic diversity of plants.”