A plant may be considered rare if the species’ total population is restricted to a very narrow geographic range or if just has a few individuals surviving or both. There are some rare plants that occur sparsely over broad areas while other have many individuals crowded in a tiny area like a canyon or single county. Another type of rare plant is that with both very few individuals and which is only found within a very narrow geographic range. Such types of plants are considered the rarest plant species.
To ascertain if a plant species is rare, there are a couple of things that are considered and they include:
- Population size
- Condition and total number of occurrences i.e. things like population and such
- Severity, immediacy, and scope of threats
- Intrinsic vulnerability
- Number of managed and protected occurrences
- Environmental Specificity
When it comes to rare plants, there is one thing you will notice about them – they all are usually very unique plant species. Some of the rarest plants normally have or do things (weird things!) that set them apart from the rest. For instance, did you know that there are plants that eat rats, and others that dance all on their own or if you play music to them? Well, if you did not know that, then here is a look at some rare plants that are almost going extinct or that are hard to come across in the open.
The Rat-Eating Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes attenboroughii)
While most pitcher plant species are benign in nature, this is one species that is just weird. The rat-eating pitcher plant is carnivorous – meaning it loves meat and is able to trap and digest whole rats. The species, found in Mount Victoria, the Philippines, was discovered in 2009; making it one of the newer species to be discovered in recent times.
The Dancing Plant (Desmodium Gyrans)
Also called the telegraph plant, the dancing plant moves its leaves spasmodic motions when its leaves are exposed to warmth, vibration or sunlight – which explains the plant’s reaction to music. Its leaves, which are equipped with hinges at their base that allow them to move, sway along elliptical paths. The great thing is that, though rare, the plant is now protected and is being grown in an effort to increase its population. How about this, having a plant that dances to music in your living room. Fun, right!
Cycad (Encephalartos woodii)
The cycad is one of the rarest plant species in the world. The tree, a tall plant from the palm family with glossy, dark leaves was once only available on one south-facing slope of a hill on the edge of South Africa’s Ngoye forest. The interesting thing about the plant is that it is extinct in the wild since it produces no seeds – the only cycad plants ever found were all males. The good thing is that people have started crossing the plant with its closest relative, the palm tree, to produce pups, which, after 3 generations, are all almost pure Encephalartos woodii again.
Other interesting rare plants out there include the Mimosa Pudica or sensitive plant that closes up its leaves as though it’s protecting itself when touched or startled, and the Pinguicula gigantean or Flypaper plant that grabs hold, and immediately starts to digest anything that will land on its leaves among many others.