This story was first published on September 23, 2015
The image shown below has been circulating via various photo sharing and social media websites for several years.
The posts claim that the image depicts a very rare flower found in the Himalayas.
However, the image does not show any sort of flower, in the Himalayas or anywhere else on land. Instead, the image depicts a marine organism known as a sea pen.
An article about sea pens on the MESA website notes:
The sea pen was named after the quill pen which it looks like. The sea pen is not actually one animal, but rather consists of many separate animals called polyps living in a colony. The polyps look like miniature sea anemones each with eight tentacles.
Sea pens, which are also sometimes called ‘sea feathers’, come in many shapes and sizes.
The image used in the circulating message is a photograph taken by Photo.net user Gordon B and was previously available on the Photo.net website (archive link).
It is unclear why the prankster responsible for the post felt the need to invent the fake ‘Himalayan flower’ description in the first place. The sea pen depicted in the photograph is compelling and beautiful in its own right and certainly needs no embellishment.