Rafflesia kerrii Meijer
Bloom Time: During the dry season
Rafflesia kerrii is a parasite to the wild grapes of the genus Tetrastigma, but only the flowers are visible. Small buds appear along the trunk and roots of the host, which after nine months, open the giant flowers. After just one week, the flower dies. It seems to be flowering seasonally, as flowers are only reported during the dry season, from January to March, and more rarely till July. The red flowers are up to 3 feet (90 cm) and smell awfully of rotten meat to attract flies for pollination.
USDA hardiness zone 13a to 13b: from 60 °F (+15.6 °C) to 70 °F (21.1 °C).
How to Grow and Care
The Rafflesia is in danger of extinction as the rain forest 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.
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