The rare flowers of the world are some of the most unique, unusual flowers. In addition to some of the more well-known rare flowers such as begonias and hoyas (“wax flowers”), we’ve found a few unusual flowers which make Little Shop of Horrors Audre
y II look like an ordinary houseplant.
What an Unusual Flower!
Recently, we saw a very strange flower take the spotlight, as Lois the Corpse Flower bloomed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Native to Sumatra, Amorphophallus titanium (titan arum) has the world’s largest inflorescence, or arrangement of petals. This unusual flower grows from a large tuber, weighing between 50 and 110 lbs. The plant produces a petal-like leaf called the spathe, which is green in color on the outside, and similar in color to red meat on the inside. From the center of the spathe, a tall, column-like stem grows straight up, and can reach heights of 6 feet or more. While its appearance is quite remarkable, it is the fragrance of this unusual flower that gets everyone talking. When the spathe of this flower opens, it emits a strong aroma quite similar to rotting meat. It is this pungent smell that gives the flower its common name: bunga bangkai, or “corpse flower”. The scent is strongest for the first twelve hours that the flower is open. Although the blooming process can take up to a month, the actual bloom itself lasts only a few days before the spadix, or stem, collapses. The corpse flower returns to dormancy and can take years to bloom again. You can follow Lois’ progress on the Houston Museum of Natural Science blog
, and watch an incredible stop-motion video of the corpse flower’s blooming process.
Another of the most rare flowers of the world is Rafflesia arnoldii, or the Corpse Lily. Like Amorphophallus titanium, the Corpse Lily is named for the foul smell it emits. The Corpse Lily is an enormous red flower with white spots, known for producing the largest single flower on Earth. This parasitic plant has no roots, stem or chlorophyll. Instead, it depends on the Tetrastigma vine in order to grow. A single flower can weigh up to 25 lbs, and hold several gallons of nectar which attracts carrion eating flies and beetles. This unusual flower
is endangered, largely due to issues with pollination. Female flowers are particularly rare, and don’t often grow in the same places or bloom at the same times as their male counterparts. The disappearance of the flower’s natural habitat in the forests of Sumatra and Borneo is a contributing factor to the dwindling number of Rafflesia arnoldii. Environmentalists are currently trying to find a way to recreate the plant’s environment in order to help preserve the species.
The American Pitcher Plant is possibly one of the most brilliantly designed plants, along with being one of the rare flowers of the world. American pitcher plants all belong to the genus Sarraceniaceae, and are typically found in the Southeastern coastal plain of the United States. The pitcher plant usually grows in sandy soil which is poor in nutrients. As a result, this unusual flower must find nourishment elsewhere. Between the months of February and May, flowers appear on the plant in varying shades of red and pink. The flowers grow downward from stalks that range in height from 1 to 3 feet. These blooms last around 2 weeks, emitting a sweet smell to attract bees and other insects that help with pollination. Once the petals drop from the flower, the pitchers open, containing a sweet nectar. The nectar is actually a narcotic, paralyzing any unfortunate insect who might mistake the pitcher for a flower. The pitchers trap the insect, digesting and reabsorbing them. What makes the American pitcher plant so unique is the sense of timing. The plant waits until the flowers have dropped off to open its pitchers, ensuring that insects can provide the necessary aid in helping create the next pitcher plant generation without being devoured by the plant. Unfortunately, only about 5% of this plant population currently remains.
We’ve looked at just a few of the most unusual flowers out there. There are countless others. Ask your local New York City Florist Shop
about some of the rare flowers of the world. What is your favorite unusual flower?