Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world are also some of the most difficult to find. These exotic plants gained their popularity by being elusive and mysterious. Their stories and origins are sometimes as fascinating as the plants themselves, giving the flowers an allure and enigma about them.

Gibraltar Campion (Silene tomentosa)

The Gibraltar Campion, or Silene tomentosa, can only be found on the high cliffs of Gibraltar, a nation at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula. In the 1980s, this plant was thought to be extinct by the whole scientific community outside of Gibraltar. By 1992, all traces of the flower had vanished. Luckily, a single specimen was found in 1994, and the plant was propagated. Now, specimens can be seen at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London and The Almeda Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.

Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)

True to its name, the Chocolate Cosmos produces flowers that are deep red to brown and grow to be 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. Sadly, this species has been extinct in the wild for 100 years.

Chocolate cosmos flower
img c.o. Shutterstock

Its only surviving specimen is a non-fertile clone, making it one of the most exotic flowers in the world. It gives off a wonderful fragrance that is similar to vanilla and cacao beans.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

Native to North America and Asia, the Dicentra formosa produces flowers that are shaped like hearts and come in beautiful reds, rose pinks and whites. The Bleeding Heart plant takes nearly two years to mature and can sustain its blooms for almost the entire summer. The plant itself can grow to 3 feet long with its flower’s petals only measuring 1 inch on average.

Blue Rose

The blue rose was once only an artificial product made by letting white roses absorb blue dye. But, in 2004, a team of Japanese scientists were able to discover the gene that prevents roses from flowering with a blue pigment. They were able to switch off this gene and incorporate iris and pansy genes into rose DNA. As a result, they were able to produce roses that bloom with a blue color. Its rarity makes it a symbol of longing to attain the impossible, and it is one of the most exotic flowers in existence.

Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum)

The Ghost Orchid has developed a special following among orchid enthusiasts, some spending years trying to catch a glimpse of it. This particular orchid will only grow if nourished by a special fungi and can only be pollinated by the giant sphinx moth. The Ghost Orchid can live underground for years without flowering and only appears during optimum conditions.

Although most people may never lay their eyes on a number of these flowers, their beauty and splendor are undeniable. Many of these rare flowers can be seen in seed banks or national botanical gardens. Others can be purchased from flower breeders at a premium price. For dedicated enthusiasts, nothing beats seeing and/or smelling some of the most exotic flowers in the world.

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Amy Heydt
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