Rare Plants UK

Rare Plants

Who doesn’t want a few rare plants growing in the garden or apartment, to have the neighbours and visitors stop and say wow! In our search for some rare additions to our indoor apartment garden, we discovered a range of beautiful rare plants, that grow in the UK. Now not only do we continue to seek their beauty but also want to grow as many as possible, as we discovered a number of them are endangered species.

Growing rare plants is a true way of creating a botanical garden, in the true sense of the word. Growing both tropical and rare plants, has given us a sense of pride and purpose in the garden.

What is a rare plant

A rare plant can be defined as; one not found in large quantities, increasing its interest and or value. Rare plants are those that are found on the ‘Red List‘, due to their scarcity or potential scarcity. To some of us searching for rare plants this can also refer to be something that is remarkably good and particularly unusual in its appearance. Here you will find a list of both types of rare plants. Those that just look unusual, for gardeners that want to add some unique green friends to their collection. Such are not on the Red List. As well as a list of plants that are true rare plants and on the Red List. Particularly those that are rare in the UK.

What rare plants grow indoor

If you are looking for plants that are unusual the list below is for you. Although they are not rare due to endangerment, they are interesting little delights. 

  • Black Succulents
  • Crassula Umbella
  • Dolphin Succulents
  • Haworthia Cooperi
  • Hoya Kerrii
  • Marimo Moss Balls
  • Nerve Plants
  • Rose Succulents
  • Trachyandra
  • Zig-Zag Cactus

Most plants are grown outside of their native country and climate but still grow well. It is no different for these plants. Yes, some will require optimal growing conditions such as a greenhouse, heated mat or grow lights, in order for them to grow well. Others will do just fine without any additional care. It is best to choose those that you are prepared to care for. If low maintenance is your preference, cacti or succulents are probably the better option.

Rare Plants UK

Plants that are truly rare, are on the Red List, due to endangerment. The Red List details a biological species conservation status. There are different levels of endangerment status:

  1. Least concern
  2. Near threatened
  3. Vulnerable
  4. Endangered
  5. Critically endangered
  6. Extinct in the wild
  7. Extinct

A number of plants are threatened all over the world. Such plants and trees are monitored and their level of increasing or decreasing scarcity is documented. The documenting of threatened species is what is commonly known as the Red List. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) compiled the Red List of threatened species and is the most comprehensive of global data, covering all species. You can find lists of all endangered species there.

Plants that are rare in the UK are listed below:

  • Fen ragwort – Senecio paludosus (critically endangered)
  • Spiked Rampion – Phyteuma spicatum (endangered)
  • Crested Cow Wheat – Melampyrum cristatum (endangered)
  • Tower Mustard – Turritis glabra (endangered)
  • Velvet Lady’s Mantle – Alchemilla monticola (endangered)
  • Yarrow Broomrape – Orobanche purpurea (vulnerable)
  • Sulphur Clover – Trifolium ochroleucon (vulnerable)
  • Wood Calamint – Clinopodium menthifolium (vulnerable)
  • Welsh Groundsel – Senecio cambrensis  (near threatened)
  • Wood Bitter Vetch – Vicia orobus (near threatened)

BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) have a free downloadable book listing the red list of vascular plants in England, starting on page 29.

Be mindful that the list is continuously updated and the status of each can change, it is useful to stay up to date with live updates of any status changes.

Plant fairs are a great place to purchase rare and unusual plants, with the added benefit of being able to have a chat and get advice on growing your precious plant. If you live in the UK check out the list of upcoming gardening events, for the next rare plant fair near you. 

Things to consider when growing rare plants

In experience there are benefits and disadvantages of growing rare plants from both plant and seed. Plants tend to come from climates, controlled environments or nurseries and their growth can deteriorate, initially, when removed from those conditions. Growing from seed is a little more labour intensive but very rewarding. If the seeds successfully germinate, in your grow settings it is quite likely that, with the right care it will continue to grow. For those rare but native to the UK, this is of course, less of a concern.

Worlds Rarests Plants 

A list of some of the worlds rarest plants, some of which are being grown in botanical gardens in the UK, to prevent extinction. 

Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant native of the Philippines. Pitcher plants trap animals (insects and rats) in liquid-filled bowls named pitchers.

Ascension Island Parsley Fern – (Anogramma ascensionis) native of Ascension Island. A tiny fern plant.

Coral Tree (Erythrina schliebenii) native of Tanzania. BloomS beautiful red flowers.

Golf Ball – (Mammillaria herrerae) native of Mexico. A small off white cactus that looks,  like a golf ball, which also blooms pink flowers. 

Jellyfish Tree – (Medusagyne oppositifolia) native of the Seychelles. Produces fruit that looks like a jellyfish when cut open.

Poke Me Boy Tree (Acacia anegadensis) native of the British Virgin Islands. A spiny shrub plant.

Suicide Palm – (Tahina spectabilis) native of North-West Madagascar. It lives for approximately 50 years, flowering once in its lifetime and then dies soon after.

Western Underground Orchid – (Rhizanthella gardneri) native of Western Australia. Blooms over a hundred cream – reddish flowers.

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