Most famous flowers are found abundantly in nature; therefore, not all famous flowers are necessarily rare as well. The rarity of a flower depends on many factors such as color, as in Himalayan blue poppy; or scent, as in chocolate flower, which smells simultaneously like coco, coffee and vanilla. The size of the flower sometimes makes it rare as well, like the corpse flower or titan arum, which is the largest flower in the world. In addition to color, scent and size, the functionality of a flower also makes it rare, like the pitcher plant, which is known to catch and digest insects. The shape of the flowers sometimes contributes towards making them quite unique among the multitudes of flowers: for example, the yellow and purple lady slippers are famous and unique on account of their typical shape. Rarity is, however, most related to the scarcity of a flower, as it impacts biodiversity; and endangered plants or those flowering plants which are at the verge of extinction are matter of great concern for botanists.
1. Ã‚ Titan Arum
Titan Arum is commonly known as corpse flower. Its botanical name is Amorphophallus titanum, from amorpho for unformed, phallus, and titan for giant. It is the largest flower head in the world and can be up to 10 feet tall. On account of the deep red coloration of the inflorescence, it resembles a piece of meat. It belongs to the group of carrion flowers. Carrion means meat, and there are flowers which are malodorous and give a rotten meat-like stinking smell, which attracts the carrion beetles and flesh flies for pollination. It is on account of this decomposing meat scent that the flower is also known as corpse flower. In fact it is an unbranched inflorescence, giving it the appearance of single flower head. Titan arum grows in the rainforests of Sumatra, where it is known as ‘bunga bangkai, from bunga for flower and bangkai meaning corpse. It is a bisexual plant and both the male and female flowers grow on the same inflorescence. The female flowers grow first to prevent self-pollination.
2. Rafflesia arnoldii
Rafflesia arnoldii is named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the British colony of Singapore, as indicated in the genus name, and Dr. Arnold, as indicated in the species name. Unlike Titan arum, which is an inflorescence or a compound flower, Rafflesia is an individual flower, and as such it is the heaviest and largest flower in the world. Like titan arum, it is a carrion flower and stinks like rotten meat. It is native to Borneo and Sumatra. It is the official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia and of Surat Thani province in Thailand. The flower is brick red in color and its petals have specks of a similar but lighter color, spread all over the petals. The flower diameter is about one meter; the flower, after blossoming, lasts for about a week. Rafflesia is parasitic and has no leaves, stem or roots. It has only absorbing filaments to take nutrition from the host plant, which is called tetra stigma vine and grows exclusively in rain forests.
3. Ã‚ Bois Dentelle
Bois dentelle, also known as Elaeocarpus bojeri, is the rarest flowering plant, as only two individuals exist in whole the world. The bell-shaped flowers are white, and have lace-like margins on their petals. The plant is on the verge of extinction and only two plants exist on the Piton Grand Bassin hill in the cloud forest of the Mauritius Island. Their environment has been impacted adversely by the use of the forest for growing Guava and an evergreen shrub Litsea monopetala. With the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Mauritian Wildlife foundation, not only have these two trees been saved, but also two offsprings from the seeds of the tree have been grown in a nursery.
4. Kokai cookei
Kokai cookei, also known as Cooke’s koki’o and Molokai cotton tree is a flowering plant found only in Hawaii. The tree is about 10 meters tall and bears bright red flowers. Only three trees existed in the dry forest of Molokai in 1860. In the beginning of the twentieth century only one individual existed and the plant was considered extinct in nature. In 1978 the surviving individual too was destroyed during a fire and the plant was considered extinct irrevocable, but fortunately one branch had survived the fire and it was grafted to yield 23 plants, which exist at different places in Hawaii.
5. The Jade Vine
The jade vine, also known as turquoise jade vine, has the botanical name Strongylodon macrobotrys. It bears claw-shaped flowers of the colors that resemble the colors of the minerals jade and turquoise. It is a bean-like woody wine which can reach up to 18 meters in length. It is native to Philippines, where it is known as tayabak. Up to 75 flowers grow in the form of clusters. Bats hang upside down on these clusters to sip the nectar and in turn pollinate it. The typical flower color is developed by co-pigmentation, a chemical reaction between malvin and saponarin, which are present in the flowers.
6. The Middlemist’s Red
Middlemist Red, also known as Middlemist camellia, was named after the gardener John Middlemist, who brought it to Britain from China in 1804. The plant was native to China, though it is now nonexistent there. It is one of the rarest flowers on account of only existing in two locations, New Zealand and England. In the UK in fact it survives only at Chiswick House in West London. The flowers attract many visitors and the importance of such visits is emphasized by the head gardener, Fiona Cruley, who told BBC ‘It’s the importance of getting as many people as possible to ensure they stay with us on this Earth’.
7. Franklin Tree Flower
The botanical name of the Franklin tree is Franklinia alatamaha and it belongs to the tea plant family Theacea. The genus Franklinia has only one species, alatamaha, which is found exclusively in the Alatamaha river valley, Georgia, U.S. The plant has been extinct since 19th century in nature and survives only as ornamental cultivated plant. Conservation of the plant is credited to the horticulturist Bertram’s family. The plant has very fragrant white flowers and its leaves turn red in autumn, adding to its beauty.
8. Chocolate Cosmos
Chocolate Cosmos belongs to the genus cosmos and family Asteraceae. The flower has been extinct in nature for more than a century and survives only in a non-fertile clone developed in 1908. There are more than 20 species including Chocolate Cosmos, Garden Cosmos, Southwestern Cosmos, Sulfur Cosmos and Ulam Raja. They have different colors but the dark red to brown species, known as chocolate cosmos, is the most valued among them. The unique characteristic of this species is that it has the fragrance of vanilla, coffee and cocoa beans. The diameter of the flowers is about four centimeters.
9. Ã‚ Pitcher Plant; Nepenthes attenboroughii
Pitcher Plants are known for their unique characteristic of being insectivorous, or insect eating, as their mode of obtaining nutrition. They are also known for their nectar content and bright color of the lid that attracts insects. Nepenthes attenboroughii is one of the rarest species, named after its discoverer, Sir David Attenborough. The plant is distinguished from other varieties with its big bell-shaped pitcher and narrow lid. It was discovered on top of Mount Victoria, in central Palawan, Philippines. It appeared in the 2012 ICUN Ã‚ list of the world’s 100 most threatened species.
10. TulipÃ‚ ‘Semper Augustus’
Semper Augustus, a tulip which does not exist in nature now and is survived only by its cultivars, was first brought to England by merchants from Holland. A distinguishing feature of the Semper Augustus tulip is its streaked flame-like broken color, which unfortunately is caused by a viral infection that had been the root cause for its extinction in nature. The seventeenth century was known for its tulip mania and the British journalist Charles Mackay recorded in his book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, that twelve acres of land was offered for one bulb of Semper Augustus tulip.
According to the demand and supply rule, the scarcity of flowers makes them expensive. The rarest flowers are therefore the most expensive among many other more beautiful and attractive flowers. The rarity of flowers has been a subject of some ancient myths. In addition to many other factors, the habitat and intrinsic quality of a flower plays a role in making it rare. In Mulan, a 1998 Disney movie, based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, it is quoted by the Emperor of China that ‘ TheÃ‚ flowerÃ‚ that blooms in adversity is theÃ‚ rarestÃ‚ and most beautiful of all.’