5 min read
Unfortunately, some plants have become rarer as time passes. Human being’s progress leads to extensive destruction of habitats and natural ecosystems, and we lose dozens of beautiful plants every year. We can explore some of the rarer species that you might be lucky enough to see this year, depending on where you live.
A member of the tea family, the franklinia alatamaha, or franklin tree, is one of the rarest flowering plants on the planet. It is the only flower of its kind and is officially extinct in the wild. It has large white petals and beautiful green leaves that turn bright red during the fall. It was native to Georgia in the past. Still, it was wiped out during the 19th century, surviving to this day only due to a family of horticulturists who loved it so much they cultivated it themselves.
This member of the pea family grows solely in the Philippines. It is a woody plant that grows in tropical rainforests and is known scientifically as the Strongylodon macrobotrys. It grows on the side of other trees, with flowers that resemble the claws of an animal. The jade vine has a beautiful color scheme, with blue-greens and mint greens being the most common, giving it a luminescent look. This flower is very close to extinction due to the loss of its natural habitat. The creatures that would typically pollinate it have since died out or moved to other areas. It is unfortunate, as there are very few flowers that come close to its ethereal beauty.
Another rarity, the kokai cookei is native solely to Hawaii. It was discovered in the late 19th century, with only three species left on the islands. It did not breed well and would have died out if not for a single branch of one of the trees being saved and transplanted onto another set of trees. They survive to this day. It is a small tree but grows dozens of large, bright red flower petals every year.
The next flower on our list is found in the tropical rainforests of beautiful Indonesia. The rafflesia arnoldii, or corpse flower, is not only one of the world’s rarest flowers but also one of the biggest. It can grow over a meter in width and has no body. You heard that right; it has no stem, not even a leaf. It is more like a parasite than the typical flowers we all know and love but is still considered to be a flowering plant. It is a carrion plant and expels an aroma of rotten flesh when blooming so that it can attract carrion beetles and flies to pollinate it. Surprisingly, it is still a stunning plant to see if you can get over its scarier features.
Found only on high cliffsides in Gibraltar, the silene tomentosa, or Gibraltar campion, has become all but extinct in the last 20 years. It was thought extinct by most of the scientific community until an adventurous climber found a single one in 1994. It has since been brought back from the brink and is located in some botanical gardens in Gibraltar and London.
Native to the Canary Islands, this beautiful plant is thought to have been pollinated by sunbirds in the past, but unfortunately, they have since gone extinct. It is mostly extinct in the wild but is widely cultivated, so it is not in any danger of leaving us anytime soon.
Native to Mexico, the chocolate cosmos is another flower that has become extinct in the wild. It has a lovely vivid red-brown coloring and is very tiny. Its fragrance is very reminiscent of vanilla with hints of chocolate.
Known as Epipogium aphyllum scientifically, the ghost orchid is a fascinating rare plant. The plant is so rare because it refuses to propagate. It has no leaves, does not depend on photosynthesis, and does not create its food. The ghost orchid always depends on a fungus for its food. The orchid can live underground for years without blooming and will only bloom when conditions are ideal. Humans have gone for years without seeing this flower only to suddenly find it blooming right near them, having been hidden underground without their knowledge.
Probably the rarest flower in the world at the moment as there are only two in existence at this point in time. One is found in New Zealand and the other in Britain. The plant was delivered over to Britain by its namesake John Middlemist. The flowers are bright pink and are shaped somewhat like a rose.
Nature is Awesome
Nature continually surprises us with its ingenuity and ability to create countless incredible species that survive through a multitude of means. That it can do this while simultaneously making them look so beautiful and have so many cool features goes to show that humans have a long way to go before we get to its level of sophistication if that is even possible. There are dozens of other examples in the world of rare and startling flowers, and with people adventuring into volcanoes and other difficult to get spots, we are finding even more spectacular plants each year. Nature is truly amazing.