Rare Blooming Flowers
As the gloom of winter lifts and spring settles in, the earth seems to be painted in a fresh coat of color as if an artist has carefully chosen the hue to break the monotony of the pervading dreariness of the winter past. Trees are covered with new leaves, hummingbirds and butterflies chirp around everywhere, and heralding the onset of this celebration are an array of flowers that add to the beauty of the world around us. Sadly enough though, some in this canvas of color are rare blooming flowers that can no longer be found in the wild.
With the fast depletion of the natural habitat of pollinating birds and insects, a flower that depends on a specific bird or insect to pollinate is unable to do so and thus becomes extinct in the wild over a period of time. These days they can only be found in various laboratories and botanical gardens around the world, cultivated and monitored under careful horticultural supervision. There are other species of rare flowers as well that have a cycle ranging from a few hours to nearly 100 years, with one species believed to bloom once every 3500 years or so. Luckily, quite a few of these flowers can still be found in the wild.
Most of these plants store nutrients over a lifetime and bloom once before withering away and dying out. They are normally found in extremely harsh conditions, like the high mountains of the Andes and the deserts of Mexico and Nevada where soil nutrition is scarce and not readily available. The process of flowering snatch these plants off all their stored nutrients, with the storing process sometimes extending over decades, forcing them to wither and die out after flowering. Here is a list of some of these flowers that are yet to become extinct, whether in the wild or in botanical gardens around the world.
The Corpse Flower
The Corpse Flower, also known as the Amorphophallus Titanum from the ancient Greek words amorphos, phallus and titan, meaning misshapen or without form, phallus or the male organ, and titan meaning giant respectively, is a fascinating and a rare flower that is found mainly in the rain forests of Sumatra in Indonesia, in the wild. It is one of the rarest, largest, and most endangered flowers in the world, that can sometimes reach a width of more than a meter at its largest diameter. It is a carrion plant, meaning that when it blooms it releases a rotting flesh-like smell that is pungent. The smell attracts flies and carrion beetles to help it pollinate. It depends on a vine to survive, and is stemless, bodiless, leafless, and rootless. The flower dies within a week of blooming, and when cultivated normally requires 7–10 years for its first bloom. There are plants that do not bloom again for the next 7-10 years, while others bloom every couple of years. It is one of the most endangered flowers in the world today.
The Agave Flowers
The Agave flower is also a rare flower where the flowering process may extend to 80 years at times! The plant is primarily Mexican, but can also be found in South and West United States and tropical and central South America. The plant resembles cactii, but is a different species altogether, with a large number of short tubular flowers.
A flowering process of an American agave plant that has been housed in the botanical gardens of the University of Michigan since 1934 has begun in 2014, i.e., approximately 80 years after it was first planted. It has grown by about six inches everyday, and presently stands a little over 27 feet high. Agave Franzosinii and Agave Americana are two varieties of the same species.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.”— ― Walt Disney Company, Mulan
Agave franzosinii is a member of the Agave plant family, and is one more of the rare blooming flowers that bloom irregularly, and thus predictions about their bloom periods are virtually impossible. Sometimes they take decades to bloom, but just prior to blooming they grows very rapidly, sometimes more than four times their average height of six feet. The plants die out after displaying a bloom of small, yellow flowers. The leaves are grayish blue in color, and gracefully undulate and bend, and have large teeth at their margins.
The Agave Americana
The Agave Americana were more commonly known as the century plants since they were thought to bloom once every 100 years. However, they actually bloom every 10 years or so, but are also known to bloom in 30 years. The plant, like the Franzosinii variety, also increases in size quite dramatically just prior to blooming, and sometimes grows up to 30 feet in height. It is also known as the American aloe and the 'maguey' in Mexico, and is mostly found in tropical America. Its flowering depends on soil and climate conditions, as well as the vigor of an individual plant to sustain itself through storing of nutrients in its leaves that is required for the flowering effort.
Queen of the Andes
Queen of the Andes is one more rare flower that is found predominantly in Bolivia and Peru, in the high Andes mountains between 3200 to 4800 m above sea level.. They live around 100 years, and during their life cycle bloom just once to produce seeds in millions and flowers in thousands. The reason they take so long to bloom, sometimes decades, is because of the environment that they inhabit, which is normally barren and harsh. They grow up to more than 40 feet tall, and need to gather and store nutrients for the effort of flowering because of their massive size. This plant also dies after flowering, and is a highly endangered species.
The Talipot Palm
The Talipot Palm, found predominantly in Southern and Eastern India and Sri Lanka, and naturalized in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Andaman Islands, is one of the largest palm trees in the world that can grow up to 25 m in height with stems up to 1.3 m in diameter. It can grow for more than 80 years, and towards the end of its life cycle, flowers just once with massive clusters of cream-colored flowers, more than 20 million at times. This flowering process leads to abundant yellow-green fruits that ensure growth of further Talipot palm trees through the process of seed dispersal.
The tree resembles an open umbrella, and its leaves are like palms of men. It is also a symbol of vitality and sobriety, and its huge leaves were used to record characters once. The famous Buddhist scriptures were also recorded on the palm leaves, and it is believed that Buddhism flourishes wherever Talipot palm trees are found.
The Bamboo Flower
Bamboo plants, though considered as the fastest growing plants in the world, flower very late that can sometimes take up to 50 years to bloom, though flowering can also extend to 130 years as has been recorded recently at the Royal Botanical Society in Kew. Why the flowers bloom is a mystery though. The flowering in the same cohort happens irrespective of geographic location, and plants of the same stock bloom with flowers at the same time irrespective of climatic conditions as well. After flowering, the bamboo plant dies.
With flowering comes fruiting. With such massive fruiting, the rodent population increases manifold which oftentimes leads to disease and famine in the human habitat. Flowering of the bamboo plant is still considered a bad omen in many places across the world.
The Youtan Poluo
The Youtan Poluo, or the udumbara flower, is believed to bloom every 3000 years. It is a legendary flower directly linked to Buddhism, and is considered auspicious in Hinduism as well. The flower was first discovered in South Korea in 1997 under a Buddha statue. That sighting was considered "exactly 3,024 lunar years after Buddhism first emerged." The blooming marks the reincarnation of the Buddha, as believed in folklore. It is a small white flower, difficult to see, and is no more than a millimeter in size. .
The Kadupul Flower
The Kadupul flower, also known as the Queen of the Night, blooms only during the nighttime and withers away at the break of dawn. It is a white-yellow colored flower found predominantly in Sri Lanka, is about 10 to 30 cm in diameter, and emits a pleasant fragrance when in bloom. It is also known as the Flower from the Moon and Kadupul Mal or Flower from the Heaven. In India it is known as the Brahma Kamal.
These flowers begin to bloom between 10 to 11 pm and continue doing so for the next two hours. Most of the flowers are in full bloom before midnight. They emanate a sweet fragrance when in bloom, and after some time begin to wilt, mostly prior to sunrise. These flowers tend to bloom on full moon days, and thus the name Flower from the Moon.
The Kurinji Flower
The Kurinji flowers are one more in the species of rare flowers that bloom once every 12 years. The Neelakurinji flowers, meaning the blue Kurinji flowers, are found abundantly when in bloom in the Western Ghats of South India in the Nilgiri Hills, meaning the blue hills. The hills have got their names from these purplish blue flowers that cover them when in bloom every 12 years. The last blossoming of this shrub happened in 2006 in the Nilgiris, and the next blossoming is thus expected in 2018. The plants grow to a height of 30 to 60 cm, but are known to grow up to 180 cm under favorable conditions. They are normally found in the Nilgiri Mountains at an altitude ranging between 1300 to 2400 meters.
The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.— ~Tennessee Williams
Do you know of any other rare flower that blooms once in a decade if not more? If yes, please let us know about them.
Note from the author~
We build dams to irrigate, harvest and generate electricity. Little do we realize that by doing so, we are also disturbing the fine ecological balance that has caused the earth to survive with its abundance of flora and fauna this long. A river that is dammed will no longer flow past a specific plant or tree, thus a species of fish that is food to a specific bird will no longer be available to that bird, and that specific bird that is required to pollinate that specific plant or tree will no longer proliferate in that region. This will cause that tree or plant to be extinct after some time, relegated to the long forgotten annals of history when it would inhabit the earth abundantly.
We have lost so many flora and fauna over the ages, some due to evolution, some due to man-made reasons, yet some to natural progression of the earth. Let us try to hold on to what we still have today, for every life and being has some role to play in the larger scheme of things when created. These rare blooming flowers are a gift of nature, and let us try and preserve them in their pristine state of glory when they would once mystify the earth with their beauty.