Flowers have always been a fascination for mankind. They have the power to dispel negative moods, bring cheer to the sick, and make any room seem brighter. Some flowers are so rare that it is only possible to view them in their native, wild habitat or in a botanical garden. Chances are that you will never see these amazing flowers in your local flower shop.
Amorphophallus titanium: The Corpse Flower
This rare flower is one of the largest flowers in the world, in addition to being the smelliest. Its monstrous flower head will be between 4 and 9 feet tall. It releases a foul odor, reminiscent of rotting meat, which has earned it the nickname of the corpse flower. Its native habitat is the jungles of Sumatra. It is rare to find this plant blooming in captivity, but on August 11, 2006, visitors to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York witnessed a spectacular 5 ½ foot bloom from a 10-year-old Amorphophallus titanium plant. It was the first time one of these rare plants had bloomed in New York in over 70 years.
Tacca chantrieri: The Black Bat Flower
This exceptionally rare flower is quite amazing. Its beautiful blooms are over 12" in diameter, and each bloom has characteristic "whiskers" that will grow to over 2 feet in length. Its color is so dark purple that it has been called black. The bat flower is native to the tropical forests in the Yunnan Province of China, where it can grow to over 36" in height. It is possible to cultivate this rare plant in your own home. It grows best in well-drained soil in high-humidity areas.
Rafflesia: Parasitic Flowers
This unusual plant genus is found in the forests of Malaysia, Southern Thailand, Sumatra, and Java. It consists of 17 known species, all of which are parasitic. This plant does not have any roots, leaves, or chlorophyll but instead consists of tiny thread-like growths that live on the tissues of the Tetrastigma root vine. When the plant is ready to bloom, it produces a cabbage-like bud that will grow for 10 months before bursting through the bark of the vine to produce a fleshy 5-petaled bloom that will measure up to a meter across and weigh up to 10 kilograms, depending on the species. The flowers, which are either male or female, sit directly on the forest floor and emit a rotting stench. It is rare to see this flower in the wild not only because of its hard-to-reach habitat, but also because the bloom lasts less than a week. All species of Rafflesia are considered endangered or threatened.
Dendrophylax lindenii: The Ghost Orchid
This exotic orchid has caught the imaginations of plant enthusiasts for over a century. First reported by Jean Jules Linden in Cuba in 1844, it was later discovered in Florida in 1880. Its original habitat is believed to have included other Caribbean islands as well. Because of its lack of leaves, it is easy to overlook the ghost orchid when it is not in bloom; then, it will appear to be a mass of green, gray, and white roots growing on a host tree. The plant uses chlorophyll in its roots to trap energy from the sun for food. It takes years for a ghost orchid to reach sexual maturity and produce a flower stem. When it does, it takes over four months for the bloom to mature. The mature flower is a ghostly white color and reaches up to 25 cm in diameter. It produces a clean, soapy smell that attracts its pollinator, the great sphinx moth. The bloom will last about three months. In Florida today, there are 1,200 known specimens growing in the wild, but there may be more growing in remote, hard-to-reach swamps rarely visited by humans.