When we are talking about a top 10 of the world’s rarest flowers we’re obviously facing a difficult task, since scientists estimate that there are over 270,000 species of flowers on our big, blue marble. Nonetheless, we definitely think that you’ll enjoy reading about these delicate and beautiful plants, especially since most of them were or still are on the brink of extinction. Here is our top 16 regarding the rarest flowers in the world:
- 16. Sea Poison Tree ( Barringtonia Asiatica)
- 15. Night-Blooming Cereus ( Echinopsis Pachanoi)
- 14. Snowdonia Hawkweed ( Hieracium Snowdoniense)
- 13. Coryanthes ( Coryanthes Vasquezii)
- 12. Middlemist Red (Middlemist Camellia)
- 11. Franklin Tree (Franklinia Alatamaha)
- 10. Campion (Silene tomentosa)
- 9. The Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)
- 8. Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)
- 7. Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)
- 6. Koki’o (Kokai cookei)
- 5. Kadupul Flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
- 4. Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum/Dendrophylax lindenii)
- 3. Yellow and Purple Lady Slippers (Cypripedium calceolus)
- 2. Youtan Poluo
- 1. The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)
16. Sea Poison Tree ( Barringtonia Asiatica)
The Sea Poison Tree can be found in several parts of Asia but also in Africa, Australia, and the Pacific. It is a nocturnal flower that grows up to 30 -50 ft (10 -50 m) tall and has beautiful, pinkish, pom-pom flowers. Its leaves have an oval shape and can reach 7-12 inches (20-30 cm) in length. The young ones have a stunning green color while the older leaves you can recognize by the shade of dark yellow-orange that they display. Pollinated by bats and moths, the Sea Poison Tree emits a specific scent at night that attracts a lot of insects. The “Poison” name comes from the fact that all parts of the tree are poisonous.
15. Night-Blooming Cereus ( Echinopsis Pachanoi)
The Night-Blooming Cereus is a cactus that is native to Arizona, most specifically to the Sonora Desert. It is also known as “Queen of the Night or “Princess of the Night” because it blooms only once a year for a single night but not until it reached the age of 4-5 years. The beautiful, white flower, which has a powerful scent and can reach up to 7 inches (18 cm), begins to bloom at 9 or 10 p.m. and is fully open by midnight. Until the morning, it can be pollinated by moths. The petals of the flower begin to fall when the first rays of the sun touch it.
14. Snowdonia Hawkweed ( Hieracium Snowdoniense)
Snowdonia Hawkweed was first discovered in the 1880s by the botanist John Griffith in North Wales. Numerous expeditions were made in the following decades, but it seems that this flower disappeared somewhere around 1950, so researchers thought it had gone extinct. But in 2002, the yellow, daisy-like flower reappeared in the same place where it had been already discovered and last reported seen, which is in the Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve.
13. Coryanthes ( Coryanthes Vasquezii)
Coryanthes is part of the bucket orchids and was first identified by Sir William Hooker at the beginning of the last century. It is native to South America, Central America, Mexico, and Trinidad and needs 2-3 years to flower. The male euglossine bee is the only one responsible for the pollination process of this flower, which is a very fascinating one. The Coryanthes secrets a scent that attracts only the male bees, which falls into the liquid-filled bucket of this flower. Then, the Coryanthes releases the male bee carrying the pollen.
12. Middlemist Red (Middlemist Camellia)
This beautiful, red flower was named after John Middlemist who in 1804 found it and collected it, and brought it to Kew Garden from China. It took botanists about 10 years to identify most of the species, and seven have not yet been identified. It was only in the year 1999 when the researchers finally identified Middlemist Red. Middlemist Red is currently grown in the Garden Trust, Chiswick House in the United Kingdom, so if you want to see this rare flower take a walk in the garden
11. Franklin Tree (Franklinia Alatamaha)
The Franklin Tree is also one of the rarest flowers in the world with a captivating history. It is believed that 1765 is the year of the first earliest mention of what could be Franklin Tree. John Bartram and his son Willian found the flower during a trip through the southeastern part of Georgia. Passionate about botany, William decided to collect the seeds for his farm but he also sent some to other botanists in Europe. Nowadays, Franklin Tree is been cultivated in over 1000 sites worldwide including botanical gardens, private homes, cemeteries, but the most amazing thing is that all these Franklin Trees are descended from the seeds that William Bartram collected more than 250 years ago.
10. Campion (Silene tomentosa)
This beautiful purple flower was actually on the verge of extinction in 1992 when scientists realized that all traces of it disappeared. The flower would only grow in Gibraltar, and even though everyone thought it had vanished from the face of the earth, one lonely specimen was found by a hiker by accident. The Campion is now grown in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and in the Almeda Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, where it is appreciated for its unique aspect and incredible resilience.
9. The Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)
Discovered in 1841 by members of the U.S. Navy, Jade Vine is part of the leguminous perennial liana species and can be found only in tropical forests of the Philippines. It usually blooms in the second year or when the base of the stem is at least ¾-inch (1.9 cm) in diameter. Pollinated by baths, Jade Vine has greenish-blue, claw-shaped flowers that hang like clusters of grapes. The blue-green to mint green shades come from the fact that it contains 2 chemicals called malvin and saponarin. In the Philippines, Jade Vine is known as “tayabak” and its flowers are consumed as vegetables.
8. Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)
The Parrot’s Beak flower illustrates a perfect example of the important connection between plants and animals. The plant originates in the Canary Islands, but it is currently believed to be extinct in the wild since the sunbirds that used to pollinate it has gone extinct as well. There have been numerous attempts to find new pollinators for this unique plant but to no avail.
7. Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)
Unfortunately, this special version of the Chocolate Orchid has been extinct in the wild for about a century but botanists made sure that it would survive through a clone created in 1902. Originally found in Mexico, this chocolate and vanilla-scented flower measures between 1.1 and 1.5 inches in diameter, and it goes by the fitting name of Chocolate Cosmos.
6. Koki’o (Kokai cookei)
Boasting large, red flowers brimming with color and beauty, the Koki’o tree was declared extinct in 1950. However, in 1970, a single surviving specimen was found, only to perish in a fire in 1978. As luck would have it, a single branch from the tree was recovered, which allowed the species to survive to this day. The Koki’o measures 36 feet in height, and it impresses with hundreds of gorgeous flowers each year.
5. Kadupul Flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
This particular flower is not threatened by extinction, but it is still quite rare nonetheless since it only blooms rarely and exclusively during the night. This strange behavior gave way to a series of legends, especially in the Buddhist religion, one stating that when it blooms, the Nagas descend from the heavens and take the flower away in order to present it as a gift to Buddha. Moreover, the Japanese call this beautiful, delicate flower “Beauty under the Moon”, which is a fitting name, wouldn’t you say?
4. Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum/Dendrophylax lindenii)
The Ghost Orchid is a very pretentious flower that was believed to be extinct for 2 decades. Highly selective, this particular orchid can only feed with the help of a specific fungus that needs to be close to its roots, since the flower itself has no leaves and thus no way of using photosynthesis. The Ghost Orchid grows on the cypress trees of Cuba, and it appears to be floating around in mid-air, hence the name. Furthermore, it can only be pollinated by the giant sphinx moth, and it will only reproduce if its seeds land on a specific moss.
3. Yellow and Purple Lady Slippers (Cypripedium calceolus)
The Cypripedium calceolus is a very rare flower that can only be found on a golf course in Britain, where it thrives under police protection since 1917. The reason for this measure is that the flower is also quite valuable, since it is very difficult to cultivate, a single cutting being worth $5,000. The Cypripedium reginae is another very rare Lady Slipper flower, and just like the Ghost Orchid, it requires nourishment from a specific type of fungus. With its bright yellow “slipper” shaped flowers and dark purple tendrils, this beautiful plant is indeed quite impressive to look at.
2. Youtan Poluo
Highly mysterious, the Youtan Poluo has no official scientific name, and it was originally discovered by a Chinese farmer, who stumbled upon it while it was growing in his steel pipes. Later, the flower was also spotted by a nun growing under her washing machine. This unique plant boasts 28 white, sweet-smelling flowers that measure no more than 1mm in diameter. The Youtan Poluo is a part of several Indian myths and can be found in Buddhist scriptures, some saying that it only blooms every 3 millenniums, which would make it quite rare indeed.
1. The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)
As the largest and rarest flower in the world, the Corpse Flower can be found on the rainforest floors of Indonesia. This giant plant originates in Sumatra, and its flowers measure 6 feet in height as well as 3 feet in diameter. The reason for its imminent extinction is that this plant depends greatly on the Tetrastigma vine for survival. This vine ensures much-needed nourishment, as well as support for the Corpse Flower since the flower itself, does not have any roots, stems, or leaves of its own. Its name was given because of its pungent smell that resembles rotting flesh, a smell that attracts beetles and flies on a regular basis. This unique, rare, and giant flower blooms just one week before dying.