There’s nothing more representative of nature’s beauty than a flower in full bloom. But while we’re all familiar with the likes of lilies, roses, and marigolds, the beauty of ordinary flowers may leave us totally unprepared for the stranger, rarer varieties.
Floriculturists have combed every corner of the world looking for strange, exotic, and unusual flower specimens. Now we’re bringing these astonishingly beautiful wonders of nature to you in all their alien glory. They are an amazing testament to the diversity of our biosphere. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Kadupul Flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
Found on the isle of Sri Lanka off the south Indian coast, Kadupul means ‘flower from heaven.’ And it does have some arguably divine characteristics: it blooms only in the middle of the night and by dawn wilts and dies.
Plus, it can’t survive picking, so it can’t be sold. That makes the Kadupul Flower truly priceless, and few people ever get to see it in full bloom. Even botanists are just beginning to understand the mysteries of this extraordinary plant, so it’s safe to say it would’ve stumped Darwin for good.
Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
It may be hard to believe, but the dark and foreboding black bat flower is actually a species of yam. Black flowers are rare enough, but this one actually looks like the cave dwelling mammals that have inspired so much dread in humans around the world. In addition, this flower’s whiskery tendrils can grow up to 28 inches long!
Youtan Poluo AKA the Udumbara Flower
Mentioned in ancient Buddhist literature but believed to be a mere legend for centuries, a Chinese nun discovered living examples of these barely visible white flowers under her washing machine.
In Buddhist texts, it is written that the Youtan Poluo blooms once every 3,000 years. While this hasn’t been confirmed, we do know they measure just a single millimeter in diameter. Since its discovery, more samples have been found growing on a statue of Buddha at the front of the Chonggye-sa Temple in Seoul.
Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)
Would you be shocked to learn that the biggest flower in the world is also the stinkiest? Like a premise for a long lost Tim Burton film, the Corpse Flower is a twenty foot tall monster that generates a powerful stench reminiscent of a rotting flesh. The stench attracts flies and carrion beetles to assist in the flower’s pollination.
Adding to the corpse flower’s haunting profile: it is a bodiless, rootless, leafless, stemless, parasite. It lives off the Tetrastigma vine in the low lying tropical rainforests of Sumatra.
Source: David Eickhoff
This flower is so rare it barely even exists anymore. Discovered in Hawaii in 1860, only three specimens were found initially. By 1950, the last remaining seedling was pronounced dead by distraught botanists.
20 years after this extinction event, a ranger discovered a surviving specimen giving hope to Kokia fans everywhere. However, in 1978 a fire destroyed this survivor, dashing dreams of a revival until a living branch was recovered from the ashes. This single branch has been grafted onto 23 trees that are still alive today.
The hundreds of bright red flowers of the Kokia Cookei are a rare pleasure to see in person so be sure to seek them out if you visit Hawaii.
Sea Poison Tree
In bloom, these flowers appear to be nothing more than particularly beautiful tangle of fiber optic cables. Their treacly smell draws attention from bats and moths at night. You can find them along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.
The captivating jade vine can grow as high as 65 feet. They’re pollinated by bats who find the jade vine flower’s luminosity to be extremely alluring. They grow in the Philippines, but unfortunately environmental degradation has pushed this species to the brink of extinction.
Native to the Canary islands, the Parrot’s Beak is completely extinct in the wild. Formerly pollinated by sunbirds, when the Parrot’s Beak biological interlocutor died out, so did the Parrot’s Beak itself. Luckily, Floriculturists continue to cultivate this gorgeous flower in greenhouses around the world. Even now, these flower whisperers undertake experiments to find new pollinators for the Parrot’s Beak as a way of reintroducing them into the wilds of the Canary islands.