Top 10 Rarest Flowers in the World

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The total number of described flowering plants exceeds 270,000, and that doesn’t include the 10 to 15% unclassified species in remote parts of the world.  All flowers are beautiful but while some are wide-spread and you can see them in every garden, others are far more rare. Here is a list of 10 rare and incredibly beautiful flowers from around the globe.

1. Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii)

Ghost Orchid
Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) by Mick Fournier, Pompano Beach, Florida

The Ghost Orchid is native to Cuba, Florida and the Bahamas and is only found in the cypress swamps where a very specific fungus lives. It has no leaves and doesn’t use photosynthesis to manufacture its food, it needs the fungus in close contact with its root system to feed it. Not only rare but fascinating, the Ghost Orchid is white with long, thin petals and two lower petals that sweep from the bottom. The flower can only be pollinated by the giant sphinx moth at night.

2. Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)

Parrot's beak

Parrot’s beak (lotus berthelotii) is a perennial plant endemic to the Canary Islands, in the genus Lotus. Among its common names are also lotus vine flower, pelican beak, and coral gem. This plant is widely cultivated but is either extinct in the wild or persists as a few individuals. In 1884 it was already classed as “exceedingly rare” and plant collection probably hastened its decline.

3. Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)

Chocolate cosmos flower
Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus). Image courtesy of Amanda Slater/Flickr

The chocolate cosmos is native to Mexico, where it is extinct in the wild. The species was introduced into cultivation in 1902, where it survives as a single clone reproduced by vegetative propagation. It generally grow to around 40-60 cm tall, and its blooms are a deep brown to maroon color, with a fragrance reminiscent to chocolate.

4. The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)

Corpse flower

The corpse flower is native solely to western Sumatra and western Java where it grows in openings in rainforest on limestone hills. It can reach up to 3 m in height and produces an unpleasant smell reminiscent of rotting meat (hence the name). The powerful odor attracts pollinators, insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat.

5. Gibraltar Campion (Silene tomentosa)

Gibraltar campion

In 1992 the Gibraltar Campion was declared extinct due to the destruction of its habitat but it was later re-discovered in 1994, when it was found growing in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Following this re-discovery, it was propagated at the Millennium Seed Bank and the type specimen is kept at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. Gibraltar Campion is protected by the law of Gibraltar under the Nature Protection Act, 1991.

6. Middlemist Red (Middlemist camellia)

The Middlemist Red is often considered to be the rarest flower in the world with only two known plants in existence; one in New Zealand and the other one at Chiswick House in West London. It received its name from a gardener, John Middlemist, who brought it back with him in 1804 from China.

7. Showy Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

The Showy Lady’s-slipper is a rare, terrestrial, temperate, lady’s-slipper orchid native to northern North America. Although never common, this rare plant has vanished from much of its historical range due to habitat loss. It has been a subject of horticultural interest for many years with Charles Darwin who like many, were unsuccessful in cultivating the plant.

8. Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

Image courtesy of Almighty Franklinstein/Flickr

Jade vine is a rare flower found mostly in the rainforest of the Philippines. It has claw shaped flowers, which vary in color from blue-green to mint green. Its stem can grow up to 18m in length and the flowers droop down to be pollinated by bats that hang from the vines to collect the nectar from the flowers. Jade vine has now become endangered due to deforestation.

9. Attenborough’s pitcher plant (Nepenthes attenboroughii)

Nepenthes attenboroughii or Attenborough’s pitcher plant,is a  species of carnivorous pitcher plant of the genus Nepenthes. It is named after the celebrated broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who is a keen enthusiast of the genus. It was discovered in 2007 after a two-month research expedition and has since appeared on the 2012 list of the world’s 100 most threatened species.

10. Kokia cookei

Photo courtesy of David Eickhoff/Flickr

Kokia cookei (commonly known as the kokiʻo, Molokaʻi treecotton, Cooke’s kokiʻo, or Molokaʻi kokiʻo.) is a small, deciduous tree found only in Hawaii. It is considered one of the rarest and most endangered plant species in the world. Even when first found in the 1860s, only three trees could be located. It was presumed extinct in the 1950s when the last surviving seedling perished. However, in 1970, a single plant was discovered on the same Kauluwai estate where the “last” individual grew, presumably a surviving relict of one of the plants previously cultivated there. Although this tree was destroyed in a fire in 1978, a branch that was removed earlier was grafted onto the related, and also endangered, Kokia kauaiensis. Currently there exist about 23 grafted plants.