One of rarest flowers in world blooms for first time in 200 years


Last year one of the rarest flowers in the world blooms. Article below.

The Franklinia alatamaha had been extinct in the wild since the 1800s.

One of the rarest flowers in the world which is now extinct in the wild has been successfully grown in a part of Britain where it disappeared 200 years ago.

The Franklinia alatamaha – known as the Franklin tree – has large fragrant, cup-shaped, snow-white blooms and is part of the tea family.

It was first discovered in 1765 by Philadelphia botanists John and William Bartram who named it after close friend Benjamin Franklin.

They found the Franklin tree on the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia, USA, but it has been extinct in the wild since 1800s.

The plant is now only found in a handful of places on the planet but has now been cultivated at the Trewithen Estate nursery near Truro, Cornwall.

A specimen was brought back to the nursery in 18th Century but soon disappeared and was feared lost forever.

But staff say three shrubs have now flowered and they expect another ten to flower next year.

Nursery manager Luke Hazelton said: ”It is such a rare shrub and extinct in the wild. To see it flower in this country is of great interest to plant lovers.

”I’ve talked to plant experts at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, and they’re surprised and excited as we are, especially as it’s flowering earlier than expected.”

The tree, which can withstand freezing temperatures but prefers warm weather, can grow up to 10m tall but more commonly reaches between 4.5m and 7.5m.

It has oblong, succulent leaves and flowers abundantly in native North America from midsummer until early autumn.

A spokesman for the Royal Botanical Gardens said the plant is very difficult to grow and is ”extremely rare” in Britain.

He said: ”The plant is very delicate and usually only stands a chance if it is kept in a greenhouse.

”However in Cornwall, the environment would make it possible to grow outside.

”These plants are very rare especially in Britain so it is great news to hear that a nursery has been able to make it flower and seed.”


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