There are many rare flowers in the Philippines, and this tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia harbors plant species that are found nowhere else on the planet. As many as one-third of the more than 9,000 species of vascular plants that are native to the Philippines are endemic, and they include interesting flowering plants as well as trees and vines.
What's the Rarest Flower?
The Philippine Islands are home to a total of 13 species of parasitic plants in the genus Rafflesia, and these are considered to be the largest flowers in the world. Rafflesia consueloae, the smallest-known member of the genus, was discovered in 2016 on the Philippine island of Luzon, and it has diameters between 3.5 and 4 inches. Rafflesias have no above-ground plant parts save for the flowers themselves. Rafflesias are considered parasitic because they survive by stealing water and nutrients from host plants.
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The undisputed star of the Philippines' flowers is the waling-waling orchid (Vanda sanderiana), a species that is found exclusively at low elevations on the island of Mindanao. There are a number of varieties of this plant available, the most unusual of which is arguably Vanda sanderiana var. alba, which features white and green flowers and can take many years to produce blossoms.
Other rare ornamental plants in the Philippines include the climbing pandanus (Freycinetia cumingiana), which is an evergreen vine that produces unusually shaped bright orange flowers.
Rare Philippines Trees
The island of Mindanao is part of the native range of the rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta), which is sometimes referred to as the Mindanao gum. It is the only eucalyptus tree that occurs naturally in the Northern Hemisphere, as the rest of the species is native to Australia. The bark of the rainbow eucalyptus has an orange tinge, and in the summer it peels, revealing the polychromatic streaks of red, green and purplish-brown that give the tree its common name.
One of the most endangered trees in the Philippines is the Philippine teak (Tectona philippinensis), which is valued for its timber. It is one of just three species in its genus, and it is found in low-elevation limestone forests.
Unusual Plants in the Philippines
Mt. Victoria on the Philippine island of Palawan is home to the largest-known carnivorous plant in the world, called Attenborough's pitcher (Nepenthes attenboroughii). Attenborough's pitcher was discovered as recently as 2009, and it is named after celebrity naturalist David Attenborough. This plant's pitcher cup, which contains the fluid that digests the insects it consumes, is about the size of a football.
Deep in the rain forests of the Philippines, the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) can be found crawling up tree trunks toward the sun. This plant gets its name from its unusual aquamarine-colored flowers. The blooms of the jade vine resemble closed butterflies, and they grow in racemes of 75 flowers. The jade plant is unfortunately nearly extinct in the wild because of deforestation, though it is cultivated in the Philippines and in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
- World Wildlife Fund: Tropical Pitcher Plants are Beautiful But Deadly
- SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry: Attenborough's Pitcher
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Eucalyptus deglupta
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Strongylodon macrobotrys
- New York Times: The Newest, and Smallest, ‘Biggest’ Flower
- American Orchid Society: Euanthe
- Orchid Web: Vanda sanderiana alba
- Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund: Philippines - Species
- Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau: Philippine Teak