Fun Flower Facts

9 Stunning Flowers and Plants that Have Gone Extinct

April 2, 2018

Having existed for more than 4.5 billion years, it’s no surprise that the Earth has undergone some major changes in its life — particularly in the types of greenery it plays home to. Whether due to climate change, geological shifts, or human or animal interference, below is a list of a few flowers and plants that have gone extinct both recently and billions of years ago.

1. Silphium

If you were somehow able to stumble upon this flower, you may mistake it for a daisy. With its many small, long, yellow petals, the silphium looks like the cousin of yellow daisies. However, the flower has not been seen by humans since it went extinct in the 1st Century B.C.

silphium flower close-up

2. Cooksonia

Believed to be one of the first plants on the planet, cooksonia lived more than 425 million years ago (to put that in perspective, dinosaurs lived around 66 million years ago). These water-loving plants could be found along coastlines all over the world. Even more interestingly, scientists believe these were the first plants to have a stem.

3. The Saint Helena Mountain Bush

Found exclusively on the island of Saint Helena, the appropriately named Saint Helena Mountain Bush disappeared from the island after population size more than doubled in just a few years.

4. The Franklin Tree

Once found only along the Altamaha River in Georgia, the Franklin Tree was discovered in the mid-1700s and quickly named after Benjamin Franklin. However, roughly 50 years after being discovered, the plant went extinct.

Though the exact reason behind why the plant went extinct still remains a mystery, scientists believe it was because chemicals from nearby cotton plantations leaked into the river and destroyed the local soil.

5. Valerianella Affinis

This dry weather-loving annual grew exclusively on the hill slopes of Yemen in the 19th Century. The reason for the plant’s sudden disappearance still remains a mystery.

6. Toromiro Tree

Unlike many others on this list, this tree is what’s known as “extinct in the wild.” Originally found on the remote island Easter Island, the Toromiro tree could no longer be found in its native habitat by the 1800s, thanks to deforestation. However, a few seeds were recovered before the tree went extinct and were planted in greenhouses and controlled gardens in Europe. So while the toromiro tree still exists on planet Earth, it’s believed it will never grow in a natural environment again.

7. The Cry Violet

Tears were surely shed for this beautiful plant once it could no longer be found in the wild by the mid-1930s and was completely extinct by the 1950s. The cry violet, which was found exclusively in France, was driven to extinction after it was picked faster than it could be planted.

8. Hawaii Chaff Flower

If you ever visited the beaches of Hawaii in the 1950s or 60s, odds are you saw the beautiful Hawaii chaff flower. Unfortunately, after Hawaii became a popular travel destination and the number of people living there increased dramatically, this shrub-like bush lost much of its land to houses, hotels, and condos, causing it to go extinct within a matter of years.

9. Kalimantan Mango

Native to Indonesia, the kalimantan mango (also known as Mangifera casturi) was a tropical fruit tree that grew more than 30 feet tall. Though extinct in the wild, due to illegal logging practices, botanists worked hard to cultivate the tree in controlled environments because of its delicious fruit.

Hopefully, we’ll never have to live in a world in which roses, daisies, and tulips don’t exist!