Top 10 Rarest Flowers on Earth

4 min


Roughly 400 thousand species of flowering plants have been identified so far. A great many more await discovery and documentation. In light of this, compiling a definitive list of the world’s rarest floral species is no simple feat.

But if you want to know which flowers are the rarest in the world, these are the top 10 choices. While some of them only flower once every few decades, others are so rare that they may soon be extinct in the wild. Read on to find out more about these unusual flowers:

Stinking Corpse Lily

The stinking corpse lily, or Rafflesia arnoldii, is native to both Indonesia and Malaysia, much like the corpse flower. It can reach a diameter of up to three feet, making it the largest flower on earth. Smelling nearly exactly like a corpse flower, the stinking corpse lily gets its name from the strong, unpleasant odor it gives off.

The stinking corpse lily is unusual in that it does not appear to have a stem, root, or leaves. The flower has become a symbol of Borneo, so much so that it has been depicted on stamps issued by Indonesia.


Corpse Flower

The Amorphophallus titanum, more often known as the corpse flower, can reach heights of up to 12 feet. It’s found naturally in the Indonesian rainforests. For those who are curious about the origins of the name “corpse flower,” it is because the blooming plant often gives out a stench similar to that of a decomposing body. The corpse flower’s powerful odor draws in pollinators.


Ghost Orchid

Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas are home to the ghost orchid, so named for the ethereal appearance of its petals. There is a huge problem with the flower’s ability to reproduce. It lacks leaves and is not photoautotrophic. It can’t make its own food and can only live in certain kinds of trees.


Flame Lily

As its name suggests, the flame lily (Gloriosa superba) is a tropical and subtropical flower that can be found growing wild throughout Asia and southern Africa. Dark pink or reddish, yellow, and orange are only some of the colors that can be seen on the flower’s many petals.

Both the flame lily and the corpse flower are capable of reaching heights of up to three meters. In spite of its attractive appearance, you should keep your hands away from one of these flowers, since touching it could lead to poisoning or, at the very least, skin discomfort.

Consuming flame lilies is extremely dangerous. There have been documented cases of their use to kill dogs and even cause abortions.


Lady’s Slipper Orchid

The flower got its name because of its resemblance to a pair of slippers traditionally worn by women. Its natural range includes the Americas, the United Kingdom and much of Europe and Asia. The lady’s slipper is a protected species in several areas, making its collection unlawful.

The length of time required for the flower’s growth and development is a contributing factor. As with many things, the lady’s slipper comes in a rainbow of hues. There is a pink variation, appropriately named the pink lady’s slipper, that can be found in New England.


Jade Vine

Strongylodon macrobotrys, often known as jade vine, is endemic to the tropical forests of the Philippines. Vines can reach a length of thirteen meters, and clusters of blooms there can be as long as ninety centimeters.

Jade vine can have a variety of colors, from blue to a pale green. Unfortunately, the habitat of the lovely claw-shaped flower is being destroyed at an alarming rate, which could lead to its extinction.


Chocolate Cosmos

Mexico was once home to the chocolate cosmos, but this species is now extinct there. This chocolate-scented bloom is named for its dark brown hue. Clones of these blossoms are now grown in secure locations.


Gibraltar Campion

Like its namesake, the Gibraltar Campion can only be found in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. The petals can be any shade between violet and pale pink. The Gibraltar campion may now be seen in full bloom in the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.


Franklin Tree Flower

The Franklin tree has a white bloom with golden stamens. Although it was last seen in the early 1800s, its native range likely included a portion of the state of Georgia in the United States. John and William Bartram, companions of Benjamin Franklin’s, are credited with discovering the Franklin tree.


Middlemist Red

Introducing the world’s rarest flower. China was the original home of the Middlemist Red. However, there are currently only 2 members of this species left in the wild. Both are in other countries; one can be found in New Zealand, and the other in England. The bloom honors John Middlemist, who in 1804 imported it from China to England.


A Mass Extinction?

All of those floras are quite rare. The primary reason is that human activity has wiped out their natural habitats. At least 571 species of plants have gone extinct since 1750, according to a 2019 study, and that figure is likely lower. An estimated one million plant and animal species are in danger of dying forever, and scientists claim human activities are a major cause of this sixth mass extinction on Earth.

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