A Few Rare And Unusual Perennials

A perennial is a plant that lives longer than two years. Biennials are plants that live two years and annuals are plants that live a single year. Flowering perennials will bloom during a certain time of the year, die back and then, grow once again from the remaining root system. The sunflower is an extremely popular perennial, but there are many more rare and unusual perennials out there just waiting to be discovered. Here are just a few.

The Snowdrop

Close-up of white snowdrop against blue sky with cloudsGalanthus, which is referred to as the snowdrop, is a genus of flowers that includes around 20 different species of perennials. Many of these species are becoming endangered and as such are harder to come by. Collecting them in the wild has become illegal in many areas as they strive to undertake new conservation efforts before it is too late.

The snowdrop usually flowers in late winter, but there is a handful of species that will flower in spring as well as autumn. Aside from their flowering time, they are very similar in many ways. The visual differences between them sometimes only a matter of size.

All snowdrop species grow from a bulb that produces a stalk and several linear leaves. The flower of the snowdrop has no petals, but instead a series of six tepals in two layers. The flower is white and the tepals usually have green markings on their tips.

This perennial has appeared several times throughout history in popular literature. It is believed to be the mysterious herb known as moly in Homer’s Odyssey. There is also a well-known Russian fairy-tale called The Twelve Months that tells the story of a little girl who must collect snowdrops in the middle of winter.

The Toad Lily

The Interesting Bloom of a Unique Toad Lilly

Tricyrtis, or the toad lily as it is known in America, is a rare genus of Asian perennials that can be found growing near the Himalayas and other parts of eastern Asia as well as Japan. Toad lilies are widely sought after because of their unique appearance.

The tepals of the lily are arranged in two layers of six each. The tepals on the outside secrete nectar and are decorated with bright purple polka dots. Inner tepals usually have similar spots of a slightly different color.

Toad lilies prefer to grow near forests where they can spend their time in moist soil. They grow in areas where there is plenty of shade and will flower sometime between summer and fall. The lily is extremely tough and can survive drastic changes in weather.

Swamp Pink

 Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nieminen, Gene
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nieminen, Gene

Helonias bullata or swamp pink is an endangered perennial that grows in different locations throughout the eastern United States. The flower itself is rather small and they grow in clusters at the end of a long stem that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The majority of remaining swamp pinks are grown in New Jersey, but six other states have small populations of the plants.

The swamp pink blooms early in the year and is very noticeable. This has lead to increase poaching of the plant over the last few decades, which has further decreased their numbers. They survive best in their natural environments where the soil is highly saturated with water. Many of the plants do not survive the move to a new location.

Despite the flower itself being rather small, the roots are large and extensive. Poachers who are unaware of how large the roots can grow are often unable to keep the plant alive in a stable environment.

Some efforts are being taken to preserve the remaining swamp pink population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have started a volunteer program labeled “Adopt-a-Swamp-Pink Population”.

Should you encounter one of these rare perennials in the wild you should take the time to stop and enjoy its beauty, but do not try to remove it from its natural habitat.

Intriguing Your Guests With Rare Flowers May be out of Reach

Setting up floral arrangements around the mailbox, entrance gate, or on a wreath hung on the front door, are all ways to welcome guests.

The joy for any at-home flower arranger is that special satisfaction in knowing that you have brightened people’s day with your own handiwork. Rare flowers may provide a powerful visual appeal of vibrant colors, shapes, and variations that most have never seen.

Even if you want to astound guests, rare flowers are probably out of reach both financially and for their inaccessibility. Some rare orchids will sell for $5,000 apiece. Even if you did have one, would you cut it apart for the sake of a few-day-long display?

Appealing to the inner nature lover in every flower arranger, we suggest incorporating the rare floral varieties in longer-lasting photographs and other artful displays. Sculpture, vases, images, and photographs are the main manners.

The Top Four Rare And Beautiful Flowers

The flowers we will highlight here are best left for pictures on the wall. They are rare, after all.

What screams out for its preponderance of gorgeous rarities are the little-seen beauties found only on their small tropical islands of origin. Volcanic islands seem to take the lead with rare flowers, perhaps for their elevated and fiery backdrop. Hawaii and Fiji take the top two spots followed by the Azores.

What’s Old Is New Again — The first rarity has an interesting past. Botanists who visited and studied plant life in the Azores 175 years ago had concluded there was one orchid species. In recent years, scientists decided to return to the Azores to study the rare orchid’s species.

Hochstetters-butterfly-orchidScientists were surprised to recognize not one, but two new rare orchids in the volcanic islands off to the west of Portugal. The Hochstetter’s butterfly orchid (Platanthera azorica) and the Platanthera micrantha orchid, also known as the narrow-lipped butterfly are the two new ones.

The next amazing beauty is found in Mauna Loa in Hawai’i’s Volcano National Park. The Silverswords are not only rare, but they are hardly ever seen despite the park hosting many visitors every year to the Kilauea volcano.

Silversword PlantThe Silverswords, also known as the Mauna Loa silversword (Argyroxiphium kauense), sits perched out of people’s view, yet in plain sight. The tall spiky stalks hit full bloom for a couple of weeks, disperse their seeds, and then lie flowerless once again. They are doubly beautiful for their flagrant appeal as well.

It turns out that the National Park rangers and other staff planted the Silversword in its natural element to flourish, rather than go extinct. They figured rightly that some places are actually out of reach of humanity’s destruction. Though, one may wonder if the volcano will agree with their conservation efforts or not.

Medinilla waterhouseiFiji provides the backdrop for number 4 in the list of rare flowers. Tagimaucia, or Medinilla waterhousei is akin to the rainforests of Fiji on its one island, Taveuni.

Its name means blood tears, for a Fijian tale where a girl was bad to her mother, ran off into the forest, and got lost. She ended up climbing a tree and crying blood tears.

While the more common flora and fauna of your area may provide a beautiful entryway to your guests, you may feel free to endlessly share tales of these 4 beautiful flowers that are very rare. Look beyond the rose bushes, winter berries, honeysuckle, and marigolds for your stories of exotic and intriguing flowers to share with your friends and family at the next big gathering.