Life

25 Most Unusual Flowers

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Flowers. They make you feel like a rainbow's rushed through you when you're given a bouquet; make you feel at peace when you're sitting amongst them in a garden and force you to whip out your phone when you see a gorgeous table centrepiece. But chances are you've never seen these before...

We've picked 25 of the most spectacular, rare or weird flowers that give every bouquet of gerberas a run for their money.

Some will make you grin, some will creep you out (warning) and some will blow you away.

Let us know your thoughts or if there's an unusual flower we've missed in the comments section below or on Twitter @StylistMagazine.

Picture credit: Rex Features, Getty

  • The Titan Arum (Amorphophuallus Titanum)

    Presenting the mother of all flowers. Yes, she’s pretty scary – she rises some three metres above the ground - and smelly with one of the foulest odours in the plant kingdom. Kew Gardens calls it its headline grabber.

  • Sea Poison Tree (Barringtonia asiatica)

    Once in full bloom these flowers resemble a cheerleader’s pom pom. They’re common along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. They have a sickly sweet smell that attracts bats and moths at night.

  • Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

    How did the rose get first dibs on representing the heart? These originate from East Asia, and since they need moist soil and partial shade they’re surprisingly easy to grow in the UK.

  • Jade Vine (Strongylodon Macrobotrys)

    Clustered together to make thick falling curtains, the jade vine can reach more than 20 metres in height and is pollinated by bats who are attracted to the luminosity of the flowers. Sadly, extensive deforestation in its native Philippines means they are close to extinction.

  • Night-Blooming Cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

    Parties have been thrown for this flower. That’s because for one night a year it will bloom and close before the sun peeps out again. It’s also famous for having the most hypnotic fragrance. Sounds like a Gatsby night out.

  • Corpse flower (Rafflesia arnoldii)

    Here’s the world’s largest bloom. Unfortunately it smells of rotting flesh. It can grow as wide as 3 feet and has no visible leaves or stem. They only grow in the southeast Asian islands of Sumatra and Borneo and up to 1,000m above sea level.

  • Buddhist Udumbara

    According to Buddist legend this flower blooms every 3,000 years and is nicknamed “an auspicious flower from heaven”. A Chinese nun discovered the white flowers, 1 mm in diameter, under her washing machine in 2010. Apparently, these tiny blooms even have a noticeable scent.

  • Pitcher plant (Nepenthes spectabilis X ventricosa)

    They’re popularly known as ‘pitcher plants’ or ‘monkey cups’ because they hold water in the tropical heat like mother nature’s very own water bottle. But there's a warning: the sweet syrup it creates attracts, captures and dissolves insects and even small birds and rodents.

  • Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedioideae calceolus)

    This flower had its own personal security guards at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Playfully labelled ‘lady’s slipper’ because its yellow petal resembles a shoe or clog, it’s one of Britain’s rarest flowers and was rescued from extinction by scientists and strict wildlife protection laws. It is thought a Lady's Slipper cutting could fetch up to £5,000 (as reported by the BBC).

  • Common sundew or round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

    Instead of petals, this flat flower has sticky hairs with glands which make them look like fireworks. The sticky goo looks like dew in the glistening sun which helps to lure and trap insects. Drawin found this plant so fascinating he spent 285 pages of his book on insectivorous plants describing his own experiments on it.

  • Utricularia Sandersonii

    The tiny flowers look like bunnies with two floppy ears and a nose but don’t be fooled. They’re carnivorous. Often referred to as ‘deadly bunnies’ because they trap and eat microscopic insects.

  • Cherry Blossoms

    The cherry blossoms of Japan are a world wonder in itself. For thousands of years the nation has held a Hanami (meaning ‘viewing flowers’) festival every spring to watch and celebrate the spectacle – a sea of fully bloomed blossom trees.

  • Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

    With a dark purple face and black lobes, these flowers look like ferocious bats. They are native to Mexico.

  • Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum)

    Not your average holly. These steely blue flowers are made up of a cone of smaller blue blooms and a metallic collar. They grow on the sandy beaches and sand dunes of Britain’s shores. Few plants can match its icy colour.

  • Golden Chain (Laburnum)

    Some 160,000 visitors call at Bodnant Garden in Wales every year to enjoy its 55 metre long tunnel of hanging laburnums, known as the Laburnum Arch. It's no wonder these flowers have been dubbed the 'golden chain'.

  • Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona Formosa)

    It’s the official state emblem of South Australia but it’s at the centre of many Aboriginal legends who call it the ‘Flower of Blood’. Some say a young aboriginal woman waited for her lover to return from hunting and when the tribe decided to move camp she was adamant and stayed to wait for him. As they left, they turned around one last time and saw the young woman sitting dressed in her red cloak. When the tribe wandered onto the site a year later they found a red flower with a black centre in her place. She was never seen again.

  • Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys linearis)

    This is one of the funniest and most deceptive orchids around because it looks like a bee is sitting or stuck in it.

  • Tree Tumbo (welwitschia mirabilis)

    Though this plant has repeatedly been called 'ugly', it's the most remarkable. Found on a strip of land in the Namibia Desert, it's thought to be a relic from the Jurassic period and has changed very little since. It’s made of two giant, continuously-growing leaves and tiny flowers that bloom on cones.

  • Snake’s Head Fritillary (fritillaria meleagris)

    These rare wild flowers have stunning chequered petals which look like snakeskin.

  • Angel’s Trumpet blossoms (Brugmansia)

    They look like little trumpets but these flowers are deadly. It produces strong hallucinogenic toxins, often in unpredictable doses. This is why the South American flower cannot be used for casual recreational purposes. An overdose could be fatal.

  • Passion flower (Passiflora Incarnata)

    Though neither rare or uncommon, these flowers are merely unusual in form. In Christian theology, the reproductive parts at the centre of the flower were thought to have resembled Jesus's crown of thorns. Hence, it was named after the story of his crucifixion.

  • Tulips

    On their own, tulips aren't unusual. But when viewed in their millions they're marvellous. These stunning strips of colour are commercial tulip fields in the Netherlands.

  • Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior)

    Ginger anyone? This exceptionally red, waxy flower found throughout gardens in Costa Rica.

  • Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

    Some say they look like flaming torches. Others think they resemble a toilet brush. Nonetheless they produce copious amounts of nectar and are loved for their spikes of colour.

  • Carrion Flower (Stapelia asterias)

    These cactus flowers can grow to be as big as 41cm when in full bloom.

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