(Part of an Exclusive WebEcoist Series on Amazing Trees, Plants, Forests and Flowers)
Did you know that there is a species of tree so rare that only two are known to exist on earth; there are also strange meat-eating flowers and flowers that simply smell like meat. What they and other unusual plants have in common is both rarity and uniqueness – they are incredible but also endangered. If you enjoyed learning about some of the world’s most beautiful endangered forests and the ultimate list of strange endangered animals, don’t miss the following list of unique endangered plants and trees.
Strange Endangered Trees
(Image via easyweb)
We live in a time some experts are calling the “last great land grab“. In order to sustain the rapidly growing population of the world in the coming years, millions of acres of forest will need to be converted to other uses – unless we come up with smarter solutions. With global warming on the rise, forests are more valuable than ever as vital carbon sinks. The twin threats of global warming and deforestation threatens many geographically distinct and ecologically important trees. Here are just a few.
Native to equatorial Africa and India, and most famous for covering much of Madagascar, the distinctive baobob tree is increasingly threatened. This tree is leafless nine months of the year and stores water in its trunk much like a camel. People make homes in the base, and the tree also produces an edible fruit called the monkeyfruit.
Monkey Puzzle Tree
(Images via taostelecommunity and rimofheaven)
This unusual evergreen tree, native to the threatened forests of Chile, is so ancient it is considered a living fossil. It has triangular, spiky, sharp leaves and bears large cones. It is considered the national tree of Chile. Due to its memorable, tail-like appearance, the monkey puzzle tree is popularly cultivated in yards around the world.
(Image via ofspiritandsoul)
The dragon tree pictured above is over 2,000 years old. The dragon tree genus contains 40 different species, many of which are popularly cultivated. Some are quite small, but the most famous are the large dragon tree pictured. They are native to Africa, though a few species are found elsewhere.
(Images via trees-plants)
This beautiful, delicate tree is exceedingly rare: there are only two bois dentelle trees that remain in existence. The pair is located in the cloud forest of Mauritius. Though it has no commercial value, it is near extinction because the cloud forest habitat has been severely damaged by alien invasive species. The bois dentelle produces beautiful sprays of delicate hanging white flowers.
Images via Blogger and Avenuevine)
The cork is actually a type of oak. From this article on endangered forests: “The odd and distinctive cork bark forest of the Mediterranean is a case where industry actually preserves this unique biome. In fact, the advent of the screw-top wine stopper is the cork bark forest’s greatest threat. … Experts say we will lose cork forests in the next decade if the wine industry continues to turn to alternative corks. Cork oaks are really fascinating; they can be ‘shorn’, much like sheep, for many years with proper maintenance. Without market incentive, though, these forests may fall into disrepair or be cleared all together.”
Bizarre Endangered Plants
(Images via cosleyhouston, traveljournal and mockturtle29)
With the prevalent deforestation of the planet’s woodlands, many fascinating and rare plant species are being destroyed before scientists have the ability to determine if there is, for example, important medicinal value. According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, over 8,000 plant species worldwide are officially threatened or endangered. Between one-fourth and one-half of all plants are at some risk. The combination of global warming and habitat destruction is formidable. Though there are thousands of interesting, diverse and unusual plants, here are a few particularly odd species that need protection. Especially when you consider that our planet may be the only one where plants are green!
Venus Fly Trap
(Images via mooseyscountrygarden and wikimedia)
It seems like everyone did a report on this insect-eating mini monster back in grade school. The carnivorous venus fly trap may be famous, but it’s also threatened. The plant’s two hinged leaves are covered in ultra sensitive fine hairs that detect the presence of everything from ants to arachnids. Trigger the hairs and snap! Lunch for the Venus Fly Trap.
(Image via liangjinjian)
This incredibly popular house plant is virtually extinct in the wild due to habitat destruction and the botanical equivalent of poaching. Its sap is poisonous, but it does make an attractive yard ornament. Unfortunately humans have not balanced their desire to grow the baseball plant in their gardens with the need to preserve natural populations of the plant.
Green Pitcher Plant
(Images via homeschoolblogger and FWS)
Another carnivorous plant, the unique green pitcher plant is endangered. Actually an herb, this insect-eating plant is native to Georgia, South Carolina and other parts of the southern United States, but due to land development its habitat is threatened and the pitcher plant may be lost if protection is not put in place. They are known to grow in stands, almost like little tree groves. There are actually several types of pitcher plants, some brilliantly colored and reminiscent of, well…click to see. But all use the same techniques and tools to lure and trap insects.
(Images via Hamburg University and Adventure Rider)
This odd plant stumped taxonomists for years. A desert plant found in South Africa, the thick welwitschia mirabilis generally possesses only two leaves, but these leaves curl and tangle as the plant grows (it often lives over 1,000 years) and becomes a jumbled, tough mass spanning 6 feet or more.
(Image via arkive)
It’s not the strangest looking plant on earth, but the snowdonia hawkweed does have the honor of being the rarest. It grows only in the Welsh valley of Snowdonia, and in seven small patches, at that. It was thought to be completely extinct by the 1950s until it was again spotted in 2002.
Funky Endangered Flowers
(Image via Mongabay)
Technically, of course, flowers are not separate from trees or plants but are simply the blooms – the reproductive (seed-containing) fruit’s come-and-pollinate-me display. But some flowers are so noteworthy for their looks and special characteristics that they are included in this post.
(Image via parasitic plants)
Winning no awards as an anniversary bouquet, this remarkable – or remarkably ugly – flower nevertheless captivates plenty of folks. The rafflesia is a parasitic plant with a flesh-like bloom the size of an armchair and a stench that’s unmissable if you’re even remotely close. The smell is so bad, in fact, that it’s often called the corpse flower or meat flower. (The Titan Arum, another stinky flower, is also called the corpse flower, but these two plants should not be confused.)
(Images via metareligion and answers.com)
The titan arum or amorphophallus titanum (basically, titanic penis) is not the world’s biggest flower, but it does have the world’s biggest inflorescence. Like the rafflesia, it also grows in Sumatra and also is called the corpse flower after its notoriously rotten stench.
(Image via dutchbulbs)
The black bat flower, or tacca chantrieri, is exceptionally rare and quite beautiful. The flowers can reach over 12″ in diameter and each bloom typically has many “whiskers” that can grow to two feet or more in length.
(Image via conaf)
The dendroseris neriifolia flower is special simply because there is only one plant left in the wild. Originally native to Chile, a single plant was found on Robinson Crusoe Island, home to dozens of rare, geographically unique species on the verge of disappearance.
Green Jade Flower
(Image via pbase)
The rare and beautiful green jade flower is distinct for its blue-green petals and navy-purple center. It looks like a fuschia plant on an acid trip.
Click Here for Even More Amazing Plants:
16 of the Most Unassuming but Deadly Poisonous Plants
18 of the Most Powerful Medicinal Plants on the Planet
20 Beautiful but Endangered Forests from Around the World
Bonus: 10 Deliciously Exotic but Edible Fruits and Vegetables