The term rare flower is not well-defined. For some, rare means a flower that is near extinction, while for others, rare is used to describe an unusual flower. This article will touch on a few flowers that fit each definition.
The beautiful kadupul flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum and Epiphyllum hookeri) is often considered the rarest flower in the world, namely because it blooms only at night and the bloom fades away before dawn. These fragrant white or yellow-white flowers are native to Sri Lanka, but can be found from Mexico to Venezuela. They can even be cultivated in areas of the U.S., namely Texas and California. The flowers, however, die quickly when picked and are rarely seen. Many are surprised to learn that the plant produces new blooms for several weeks. The blooms typically open between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. and begin to wilt within hours. In tropical areas, the kadupul flower would make a delightful addition to moon gardens.
Nearly everyone loves roses and enjoys the range of colors and fragrance these delightful flowers add to the garden. While it is difficult to declare which roses are the rarest, there are certainly a number of unusual rose colors that could qualify them as rare.
- Blue Roses: You may have seen striking images of brilliant blue roses and assumed they were natural, but the truth is, true blue roses do not exist in nature. The images you have seen are either digitally altered or the roses have been treated with floral dye. Placing white or cream colored roses in a vase of blue floral dye will cause the color to rise up through the stem and color the petals. The first natural blue rose “Applause” appeared in 2011, but it looks more silvery-purple than blue. The blooms on other rose bushes labeled as blue appear a dusky gray.
- Multicolored Roses: Some roses, like Jacob’s Coat, produce multicolored blooms. While they are typically readily available and are not rare in the sense of availability, their appearance is unusual enough to qualify them as rare.
- Old Fashioned Roses: These roses grow on their own root system and adjust well to the natural environment. While they can be purchased today, they may also be found around abandoned homesteads where they have thrived for generations. The blooms range in size, shape and color and tend to be more fragrant than today’s hybrids.
Middlemist Red Camellia
Many mistake the Middlemist red camellia for a rose as the blooms resemble the petals of a rose. This rare flower only exists in two known locations in the world – in the Duke of Devonshire’s conservatory at Chiswick, West London, and in Waitangi, New Zealand. The plants originated in China where they were collected by John Middlemist in 1804. While other Middlemist red camellia plants have died out, these two plants continue to thrive and produce abundant blooms each year.
Orchids (Orchidaceae) are a family of plants that include an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 species. Only about 10,000 of them live in tropical regions. These flowers come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors, many of which resemble miniature birds, animals and faces. Some rare orchids include:
- Ghost Orchids (Epipogium aphyllum) These orchids were discovered in 1854 and have only been sighted a dozen times or more since. They bloom in shaded woodlands and look like hovering white ghosts.
- Sky Blue Sun Orchid (Thelymitra jonesii ) This orchid is found only in Tasmania where it blooms from October to December.
- Monkey Face Orchid (Dracula Simia) Although this orchid is not endangered, its unusual appearance qualifies it as a rare flower. The center of the flower looks remarkably like the face of a monkey, giving rise to its name.
- Naked Man Orchid (Orchis Italica) This orchid plant produces a cluster of blooms that resemble purple and white anatomically correct dancing men.
Whether you are interested in rare flowers that are nearly impossible to find, or just enjoy those that are a little unusual, there are plenty to go around. There are garden catalogs that cater to rare houseplants, unusual annuals or exotic-looking perennials for your garden bed.