Facts about flowers
If you’re looking for some interesting facts about flowers, you’ve stumbled across the right article. Flowers are well-known for their scents and natural beauty, but many have hidden features.
The Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera - from the Nymphaeaceae family) was believed, by the ancient Egyptians, to be sacred. They worshipped these water lilies that grew along the River Nile and also used them in funeral rituals. This beautiful aquatic flower has seeds that can germinate for up to ten centuries.
There are a number of flowers that bloom exclusively during the night. Commonly referred to as “moon flowers” - the most well-known is perhaps the tropical white morning-glory (Ipomoea alba). This nocturnal-flowering climbing plant has fine stems and tubercular roots. The Ipomoea alba flowers close during the day, but by nightfall bloom in all their glory.
So why do they bloom at night?
These fragrant nocturnal plants pollinate via nocturnal animals. They take advantage of the night to secrete aromas and attract nocturnal pollinators such as bats, butterflies or moths to help them spread seeds in the wild.
Pollination in plants is the process in which pollen is transferred from the anther, the (male) pollen producing reproductive organ of a plant, to the stigma (female part). The word "pollen" (which has been used in science since 1760) means "fine powder”. Pollination is extremely important for the life cycle of a plant, because without it - they cannot produce fruit or seeds. Pollen is transferred by pollinators, which can be wind, insects, birds and small mammals such as bats.
Here’s some more interesting facts you might not know about flowers...
There remains some debate surrounding when flowers first bloomed on Earth, but many scientists believe it was around 100-140 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period.
According to Kew’s large scale research project State of the World’s Plants, there are over 360,000 species of flowering plants in the world.
Of all the flowers on Earth, around 35,000 are understood to be different species of roses.
Nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Andes, the Puya raimondii, is the world’s largest Bromeliad, with one of the largest flowering stalks on Earth. This endemic alpine flowering plant is native to the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru.
This plant belongs to the same family as the pineapple. It’s leaves are more similar to those of the yucca plant and grow up to 4 metres, according to the Guinness Book of Records 2020.
The Puya raimondii flower can reach a height around 12-15 metres, but it can take anywhere between 80 and 150 years for this plant to produce its flower - crowning it the slowest known flowering plant in existence.
When its flower finally arrives, it is at this point that the Puya raimondii dies. The flowering stalk will last a couple of years, but the plant will die - it’s monocarpic, meaning it flowers and sets seed once before dying.
Tulip bulbs were considered more valuable than gold in 17th century Holland - a time now often referred to as the dutch tulip craze.
Among the most valuable tulips, there was one that was said to be more beautiful and more rare than all the others: the Semper Augustus. This particular tulip became famous in part because it was most scarce: at one point, only 12 bulbs of the flower were said to exist.
Tulips could be used as currency among the 17th century Dutch, due to their high market value. which is quite strange considering that the vase life of a tulip is only 3 to 7 days.
It's perhaps strange that a flower only lasts for 5-7 days in bloom could be valued so highly.
At the other end of the spectrum: food shortages in Europe as a result World War II led families use tulip bulbs as a food source - sometimes substituted for onions.
The flower with the world’s largest bloom is called the Rafflesia arnoldii. It’s native to Southeast Asia and can bloom to up to 91 centimetres in diameter and weigh up to 91 kilograms.
Its colossal petals are 1.9 centimetres thick. It has no leaves, stem or roots, but grows as a vine in tropical forests.
It’s bold in both size and scent - nicknamed the ‘corpse lily' (or 'stinking corpse lily') - it smells something similar to the odour of rotting flesh.
Watermeal (Wolffia angusta) has been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest flowering plant on record, measuring 0.6 millimetres (mm) in length and 0.33 mm in width.
However, more recently Wolffia globosa has been described as the smallest, at 0.1–0.2 mm in diameter.
The Dendrophylax lindenii or ‘ghost orchid’ is one of the rarest flowers in the world.
It is an unusually beautiful flower found only in Cuba and the flooded forests of South Florida, where there are about 2,000 of the plants. This species draws its moisture from the air and has no leaves. The ghost orchid’s flowers are usually green and they produce a soap-like smell when flowering, which is between April and August.
Some of the rarest flowers in the world include Parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii), native to the Canary Islands; the beautifully slender Youtan Poluo flower - found in Taiwan, Korea and China; the gigantic corpse lily (mentioned above), which only flowers every 30 to 40 years and is native to Sumatra; the Jade flower, found in tropical forests of the Philippines; the chocolate flower (Cosmos atrosanguineus) - extinct in the wild due to the destruction of its habitat at the beginning of the 20th century, and the ‘bladder campion’ (Silene vulgaris), which is only found in Gibraltar.
The Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is the tallest flower in the world.
One specimen observed in 2018 reached 3 metres in height and almost surpassed the confirmed record of 3.1 meters in 2010.
Similar to the Rafflesia arnoldii, this flower smells bad - earning it the nickname 'corpse flower' or 'corpse plant'. Its odour is so strong that it can be smelt from almost a kilometre away, according to the Guinness World Records.
The Lodoicea Maldivica, commonly known as the sea coconut, coco de mer palm, or double coconut, native to the Seychelles, has the largest seeds on the planet, each weighing up to 25 kg.
This flowering palm produces these seeds that are encased around a large woody fruit that take six years to grow.
A young sunflower’s (Helianthus annuus) head faces the sun to receive sunlight it needs for photosynthesis. As the Sun moves from east to west, the sunflower continues to move to face it - meaning young sunflowers move throughout the whole day.
They move like the hands of a clock and each day they make the same "journey" to wait for the sunrise the next morning. A plant’s ability to follow the Sun is called heliotropism.
Broccoli is both a flower and a vegetable. The ‘flower’ is the largest part of the plant is also the part that is typically eaten.
These edible flowers belong to the Cruciferae family, along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnip, watercress and radish.
'Morning glories' (Ipomoea) can take a few months (up to 120 days) to grow from seed to flower.
The flower will bloom in the morning, then close up and fall off the plant within a day - fortunately it usually produces quite a few blooms each day. The morning glory has petals shaped like a bell.