Weird Nature
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15 Interesting Plants That Are Endangered

July 20, 2020 1.7k views15 items

When most people think of endangered species, they most often consider animals, but they are hardly the only organisms leaving this world due to extinction. Plants are endangered and disappearing as well, and while most people don't consider plants to be all that important, they absolutely are. Plants soak up CO2, they produce oxygen, and almost everything humans eat (or what our food eats), so the world can't afford to lose plants any more than it can animals.

Due to habitat destruction, changes in global temperature, invasive species, and other issues, plants are disappearing from the world at an alarming rate. The list of endangered plant species includes some that are rather interesting, so take a look at these 15 endangered plants, and hopefully, they can make it off the list the right way — by recovering rather than going extinct!

 

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  • Grandidier's Baobab

    Grandidier's Baobab
    Photo: vil.sandi / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    Adansonia grandidieri is more commonly known as Grandidier's baobab in its native Madagascar. It is one of the largest species of baobab tree, and is listed as "Endangered" by the IUCN.

    These trees are unusual due to their large trunks, which can store thousands of gallons of water to help them get through the dry season. Human colonization of Madagascar has already caused the extinction of several species of baobab, and only six remain.

    The trees are heavily exploited for their seeds, which are used to make cooking oil and supply vitamin C, the fruit is typically collected on the ground. Their survival continues to be threatened by the encroachment of agricultural land.

  • Corpse Flower

    Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants that contains 28 species, many of which are endangered. This is primarily due to the limited window of opportunity these plants have to reproduce. Many species bloom at night and begin to decompose only two to three days later, and since both the male and female flowers need to be open at the same time for pollination to occur, it occurs only rarely.

    The plant has no stems, leaves, or roots of its own, and exists through parasitism. Rafflesia is holoparasitic and spreads through other plants. The only part of the plant that is visible is the flower, which grows to a rather large size. Depending on the species, flowers can grow up to 40 inches in diameter, and weigh as much as 22 lbs, though there have been larger examples identified.

    The Rafflesia arnoldii is the largest flower in the world, and it is best known by its more common name, the Corpse Flower. It earned that name due to the repulsive odor the flower emits when it's in bloom. Many describe it as a smell similar to rotting meat, which the plant uses to attract insects needed to help pollinate the plant.

  • Wood’s Cycad

    Wood’s Cycad
    Photo: Nick Turland / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Encephalartos woodii is a rare species of cyad endemic to the oNgoye Forest of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Known as the Wood's cycad, it is one of the rarest plants in the world, and it is widely believed to be extinct in the wild. All extant specimens are clones of the extinct species, though few remain.

    Currently, Wood's cyad is only found in various botanical institutions around the world. The remaining clones were taken from a male plant, which was itself removed from the wild. Excursions to its former range have turned up no new individuals, leading to its classification.

  • Titan Arum

    Amorphophallus titanum, or more commonly, Titan arum, is a flowering plant that produces the largest unbranched inflorescence (group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem) in the world. The plant is found only on the islands of Sumatra and western Java, where it is endangered and quite rare. The flower emits an odor similar to that of a rotting corpse, which gives it the name of "corpse flower," which is shared with another flower on this list.

    The flower can reach more than 10 feet in height, and due to its incredible size, it has been cultivated by botanical gardens around the world for display to the public. Private collectors also acquire them for their unusual nature. The plant takes between seven and ten years before it blooms for the first time, but it may not do so again for another seven to ten years. Some individuals don't follow this pattern and can bloom every two to three years.

    When the Titan arum blooms, it typically begins to wilt within only 12 hours. During this time, the female flowers are receptive to pollination. Due to the limited window for pollination, the flower doesn't reproduce well in the wild.