Rafflesia arnoldii R. Br.
Bloom Time: Flowers can appear at any time, though blooms tend to be slightly more frequent between November and January
Rafflesia arnoldii is a flowering plant that produces the largest flower on earth. The flower grows up to 3.3 feet (1 m) in diameter. It emerges from a huge cabbage-like, maroon or magenta, up to 12 inches (30 cm) wide bud. Despite being a plant, it does not photosynthesize, has no roots and leaves, and does not at all seem like a plant. It can only be seen outside the host plant when it is ready to reproduce. Perhaps the flower is the only part identifiable as distinctly plant-like, though even this is unusual since it attains massive proportions, has a reddish-brown coloration and stinks of rotting flesh. This scent attracts insects such as flies that then pollinate this rare plant.
How to Grow and Care
The Rafflesia is in danger of extinction as the rainforest is burned and cleared for crop production and urban growth. The buds are also harvested and sold because locals believe they have medicinal properties if consumed. The plant has never been cultivated in captivity, and it only grows on the tetrastigma vine, so its survival is seriously threatened.
Pollination is rare because most locations contain only male flowers or female flowers. For pollination to occur, the fly must land on the male flower and then take the pollen to the female flower. If pollination occurs, the flower produces a globular, smooth-skinned fruit measuring up to 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. It contains thousands of seeds. Birds and squirrels enjoy eating the fruit and help to spread the Rafflesia seeds through their eliminations.
See more at Rafflesia: The World's Largest Bloom.
This species is endemic to the rainforests of Sumatra and possibly Borneo.
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