Tropical rain forests have long captured the popular imagination, conjuring up images of fantastical plants and flowers that seem almost alien in their exoticism. While many tropical flowers can be grown in warm climates throughout the world, many more rare species are so particular about their growing environment that they're better off growing in the wild.
Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering vines that can be found growing in abundance in the Amazon rain forest. The plant has hooked thorns, which it uses to help itself climb over other plants in order to get to sunlight. The plant boasts deep green foliage and clusters of paperlike magenta blooms. The drought-tolerant plant is a popular cultivar for warm climates that don't get a lot of rain, and its relatively high saline tolerance makes it an ideal choice for coastal gardeners. The plants prefer dry, moderately fertile soil, and though they'll grow better in full sun, they'll usually grow in partial shade as well.
The gruesomely named corpse flower (Rafflesia arnoldii) is named after its pungent smell, which has the distinct aroma of decomposing flesh. The smell of the flower is used to attract the plant's pollinators: flies. Native to the Sumatra and Borneo rain forests in Indonesia, the corpse flower is the largest flower in the world, with a diameter that can reach up to 3 feet. The corpse flower is a parasitic plant that grows on the tetrastigma vine. The unusual flower is a reddish brown color with a gaping cavity in the middle. The endangered flower is difficult to spot in the wild.
Amazon Water Lily
Native to the Amazon River, the Amazon water lily (Victoria amazonica) is the largest plant in the water lily family. The lily pads, which float on the surface of the water attached to a long root, can reach staggering lengths of more than 6 feet in diameter. The night-blooming Amazon water lily produces fragrant, crisp white flowers between 6 inches and 12 inches that gradually change colors until reaching a deep crimson, right before the flower's death. The plant is pollinated by beetles. Extremely difficult and expensive to cultivate, the Amazon water lily requires a greenhouse and a deep pool of warm water.