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20 Of The World’s Ugliest Flowers

20 Of The World’s Ugliest Flowers

Flowers are usually decorative pieces for every occasion. They serve to freshen up someone’s day or house, or office.

However, there are types of flowers that have been unanimously deemed ugly because of their weird shape or color, the foul odor they emit, or their carnivorous or parasitic nature.

To pique your curiosity, we have rounded up the 20 ugliest flowers in the world right here.

20 Types of Ugly Flowers

1. California Pitcher Plant (Darlingtonia californica)

California Pitcher Plant (Darlingtonia californica)
Image: Maureen Jules on US Forest Service
Scientific NameDarlingtonia Californica
Common NameCalifornia pitcher plant, cobra plant, cobra lily
Distinct featureTranslucent balloon-like flowers

The California pitcher plant is carnivorous. It has tubular leaves shaped like a rearing cobra used to trap its insect prey. 

The Darlingtonia Californica also produces flowers that hang down from the top of its stalk. The cobra lily’s flower has purple-red hued petals with a small opening at the peak for its pollinators. 

The cobra plant is native to Northern California and Oregon in the United States. 

2. Ophrys Regis-Ferdinandii (Ophrys speculum)

Ophrys Regis-Ferdinandii (Ophrys speculum)
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Scientific NameOphrys speculum
Common NameOphrys Regis-Ferdinandii, Mirror orchid, Earwig orchids, King Ferdinand’s orchid
Distinct featureLip of the flower is recurved and divided into 3 lobes

The flowers of the mirror orchid look like a furry earwig that feeds on the plant. 

The Orphys Regis-Ferdinandii can only be found in Turkey and eastern Aegean islands. 

This plant only grows up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) in height. 

3. Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)

Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)
Image: US Botanic Garden
Scientific NameAmorphophallus titanum
Common NameCorpse flower, Titan Arum
Distinct featureEmits rotting meat fragrance from a spadix of flowers wrapped by a red spathe

The corpse flower is the world’s largest and smelliest unbranched inflorescence. This plant emits a rotting meat fragrance in a spadix of flowers wrapped by a red spathe, similar to a large petal.

It is native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. 

The inflorescence, or the arrangement of the plant in the floral axis grows over 10 feet (3 meters) tall. 

There are smaller flowers inside the corpse flower which produce oils that attract insects for pollination. 

The Titan Arum does not have a definite flowering period. It can take more than 10 years before it blooms again and once it does, the flower only lives for less than 2 days. 

4. Zulu Giant (Stapelia gigantea)

Zulu Giant (Stapelia gigantea)
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NameStapelia gigantea
Common NameZulu giant, carrion plant, toad plant, starfish plant, starfish flower
Distinct featurelarge star-shaped five-petalled red, yellow, wrinkled flowers

The Zulu giant is a succulent that can only be found in the deserts of South Africa and Tanzania. 

The flower of Stapelia gigantea is shaped like a star with five yellow-cream-colored petals. Its petals have red line patterns, with its surface wrinkled and with long hairs. 

The starfish plant also emits a foul, rotting-meat-like odor as means to attract pollinating insects. 

5. Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)

Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NameTacca chantrieri
Common NameBlack bat flower
Distinct featureBat-shapes flowers with long whiskers

The black bat flower is native to the tropical parts of Southeast Asia. 

Shaped like a bat, it has a dark purple color with long whiskers that can grow up to 28 inches (70 centimeters) in length. 

6. Giant Padma (Rafflesia Arnoldii)

Giant Padma (Rafflesia Arnoldii)
Image: Harvard Magazine
Scientific NameRafflesia Arnoldii
Common NameGiant Padma, Rafflesia, kerubut, candawan biriang
Distinct featurelarge, cabbage-like, maroon or dark brown bud flower

Rafflesia is a parasitic plant which attaches to a host to obtain water and nutrients. It has no stem, leaves, or roots and leaves – only the fleshy flower above the ground. 

This flower also releases a rotting meat odor to attract pollinating insects. 

It is also known as the largest flower in the world, with a diameter of 3.3 feet or (1 meter). 

The Giant Padma is native to the rainforests of Borner and Sumatra, Indonesia. 

7. Pelican Flower (Aristolochia grandiflora)

Pelican Flower (Aristolochia grandiflora)
Image: Our Breathing Planet
Scientific NameAristolochia grandiflora
Common NamePelican flower, Brazilian Dutchman’s pipe 
Distinct featurelarge solitary purple or brown veined flowers

The Aristolochia grandiflora consists of large, velvet-colored flowers with white veins. 

They also emit an unpleasant odor that attracts insects like flies and beetles to pollinate. 

The Pelican flower is native to Central America and the Caribbean. It is a vine plant that usually grows in streams and gullies in tropical forests. 

8. Birthwort (Aristolochia labiata)

Birthwort (Aristolochia labiata)
Image: Isabel Guerra on iNaturalist
Scientific NameAristolochia labiata
Common NameBirthwort, pipevine or Mottled Dutchman’s pipe, rooster flower
Distinct featuretongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe

The Birtwort is a perennial herb, indigenous to Brazil. 

Although not carnivorous, it has a tubular tongue-like structure that it uses to trap insects for pollination. 

It is also a capsule fruit where it stores it endospermic seeds.

9. Monkey Cups (Nepenthes)

Monkey Cups (Nepenthes)
Image: CGTN
Scientific NameNepenthes
Common Nametropical pitcher plants, monkey cups
Distinct featurePitcher with a small bud that evokes a champagne flute

Monkey cups are hanging carnivorous plants native to North America, Australia, and Southeast Asia. 

These pitcher plants have long green cup-like flowers which function as a trap for small insects. They use the nectar inside the tube to attract insects. 

Once inside, the tiny hairs at the bottom of the tubular structure prevent the insects from escaping and lead to drowning them.

10. Bladderwort (Utricularia)

Bladderwort (Utricularia)
Image: North Carolina Plant Toolbox
Scientific NameUtricularia
Common NameBladderwort
Distinct featuretiny yellow snapdragon-liked flowers with slender stalks

The Utricularia comes from a large group of carnivorous plants. It has hollow traps, called the “bladders,” which catch its prey for food in not more than 3 milliseconds. 

The hairs on the door of these bladders prevent the tiny organisms like larvae of mosquitoes or water fliesx from escaping. 

Bladderworts are known to have originated in North America. 

11. Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea)

Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea)
Image: Meadow Beauty Nursery
Scientific NameFicus aurea
Common Namestrangler fig, golden fig, higuerón, matapalo
Distinct featureWraps around the grows on the host tree

Strangler figs are parasitic in nature. They grow and cover a host plant from top to bottom until it gets suffocated to death. 

In the end, the trunk of the host tree is covered by the root-like structure of the strangler fig. The center of this plant remains hollow and is a common breeding ground for bats and rodents.

Strangler figs are usually found in tropical rainforests. 

12. Tree Tumbo (Welwitschia mirabilis)

Tree Tumbo (Welwitschia mirabilis)
Image: World of Succulents
Scientific NameWelwitschia mirabilis
Common NameTree Tumbo, tumboa, kharos, khurub
Distinct featureTwo leathery, broad, strap-shaped leaves that become a ribbon as they age

The Tree Tumbo looks like a dying and wilting plant indigenous to the Namib Desert in Africa. 

It has brown and green leaves with a root structure similar to a carrot. 

Its root tends to grow more than 30 meters below the ground. This prevents the tumboa from getting uprooted due to the strong desert winds. 

13. Stinky Squid (Pseudocolus fusiformis)

Stinky Squid (Pseudocolus fusiformis)
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NamePseudocolus fusiformis
Common NameStinky Squid
Distinct featureThree or four upright arms that join together at the top

The stinky squid is a red mushroom with three to four stems growing from the ground. Its stems are joined at the top. 

The Pseudocolus fusiformis has a reddish-orange color and is covered by slime that smells like manure. 

It is a toxic and inedible type of red mushroom. Records showed that some dogs who ate the stinky squid experienced stomach problems, while others died after eating a large amount. 

14. Karas Mountains Living Stone (Lithops karasmontana)

Karas Mountains Living Stone (Lithops karasmontana)
Image: World of Succulents
Scientific NameLithops karasmontana
Common NameKaras Mountains Living Stone, stone plant
Distinct featureStemless leaves that resemble grey stones with brown mottling surface

The Karas Mountains Living Stone is an inedible succulent plant that resembles brain matter or gray stones with brown mottled surface. They are tiny pebbles with a crack in the middle. 

This plant grows in clumps while being submerged in soil. 

The stone plant is indigenous to Southern Africa and usually grows on the crevices of rocky desert and mountains. 

15. Sea Onion (Albuca bracteata)

Sea Onion (Albuca bracteata)
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NameAlbuca bracteata
Common Namepregnant onion, false sea onion, sea-onion
Distinct featureStar-shaped greenish-white flowers with a bulky bulb in the middle

The sea onion has a bulb with light brown scales and sprouts long thick vines in the summer. 

As the skin of the bulb peels off during winter, the star-shaped greenish-white flowers bloom. 

Sea onions are toxic and inedible. Its sap causes skin irritation. 

16. Vegetable sheep (Raoulia rubra)

Vegetable sheep (Raoulia rubra)
Image: Berkeley Nature
Scientific NameRaoulia rubra
Common NameVegetable sheep
Distinct featureSmall wool-like leaves in clusters

The Vegetable sheep belongs to a cushion-like plant family called, Asteraceae.

When viewed from the top of rocky mountain surfaces, it looks like a large white-grey clump of grazing sheep. 

It has a fleshy, rock-like texture and small leaves that grow in clumps of sponges. This feature holds moisture to help it survive the desert climate.

The Raoulia rubra is indigenous to New Zealand. 

17. Gastrodia agnicellus

Gastrodia agnicellus
Image: New Scientist
Scientific NameGastrodia agnicellus
Common NameGastrodia agnicellus
Distinct featureBrown fleshy flowers with ear-like petals

In 2020, botanists declared the Gastrodia agnicellus ugliest orchid in the world. It has small, fleshy brown flowers and a fuzzy tuberous root. 

It measures 1.1 centimeters, without leaves or any other photosyntetic tissue. The orchid relies on fungi for nutrition.  

Gastrodia agnicellus releases a musk, rose-like scent.

This flower was discovered by botanist Johan Hermans in the evergreen rainforest of  southeast Madagascar. 

18. Domingos Martins (Aristolochia cymbifera)

Domingos Martins (Aristolochia cymbifera)
Image: Garden of Eaden
Scientific NameAristolochia cymbifera
Common NameDomingos Martins
Distinct featureLarge kidney-shaped leaves with U-shaped balloon flowers

The Domingos Martins has a 6 to 8 inch kidney-shaped flower with purple or brown spots. 

The shape of its flower attract flies thereby making it an elaborate trap. It also emits a foul odor to attract other insects. 

Once the insect enters the tube, the tiny hairs inside it prevents them from escaping. 

The Aristolochia cymbifera is a vine that stays evergreen in subtropical climates. Its stem can grow from 6 to 20 feet. 

19. Elephant’s Head (Pedicularis groenlandica)

Elephant’s Head (Pedicularis groenlandica)
Image: American Southwest
Scientific NamePedicularis groenlandica
Common Nameelephant’s head, elephant-head lousewort, and butterfly tongue
Distinct featureBrigh purple-white flowers with a pointed beak that curves upward resembling the trunk of an elephant

The Pedicularis groenlandica is a flowering plant that grows up to 80 centimeters (31 inches) tall. 

The top of its stem consists of bright purple flowers with white spots. Each flower curves upward resembling the trunk of an elephant while its lateral lobes are similar to an elephant’s ears. 

This lousewort is a root parasite as it absorbs nutrients by piercing through the roots of the host. 

The butterfly tongue is commonly found in the moist mountain meadow of North America.

20. Bastard Cobas (Cyphostemma juttae)

Bastard Cobas (Cyphostemma juttae)
Image: World of Succulents
Scientific NameCyphostemma juttae
Common Namewild grape, tree grape, Namibian grape, Droog-my-keel, Bastard Cobas
Distinct featureSwollen bottle-shaped stem with a grape-like bunch of flowers

The Bastard Cobas is a succulent plant from southern Africa. It is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 6 feet or (1.8 meters) high. 

The wild grape is a slow-growing plant known for its bottled-shaped stem. It has a spreading crown of papery bark and a fleshy stem that serve as a water reservoir during drought. 

Its pinkish-red flowers grow in grape-like bunches but are toxic and inedible.

Ugly or not, these flowers still attract tourists, because of their unusual characteristics. 

Out of these 20 flowers, which is the ugliest for you? Share your thoughts in the comment box!

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