Rafflesia is a genus of about 20 species of parasitic flowering plants in the family Rafflesiaceae, native to tropical rain forest area of Southeast Asia.
Rafflesia is one of the biggest and one of the stinkiest flower in the world. The flower has five huge leathery petals with a central disc in the middle surrounded by a diaphragm. The plant is bizarre, spectacular and rare, with no leaves, no roots and no stem. It doesn’t have chlorophyll and therefore is incapable of photosynthesis, causing some to argue that the plant isn’t a flower at all.
The genus name was given in honor of Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), a British statesman and founder of the British colony of Singapore.
Because of its parasitic nature, Rafflesia is a symbol of death.
Interesting facts about Rafflesia:
Rafflesia arnoldii – The Largest Flower in the World
While the Titan arum bears the largest unbranched inflorescence of all flowering plants, Rafflesia arnoldii has the largest individual flower on Earth.
Rafflesia arnoldii is the heavyweight champion among flowers, holding the title as the largest single blooming flower. It can reach up to 1 m (more than 3 ft) in diameter and weight up to 11 kg (25 pounds)!
Parasitic Nature of Rafflesia arnoldii
This species is remarkable for its parasitic nature and is known as the “Queen of all parasitic organisms”.
It attaches itself to a host plant Tetrastigma vine and has a parasitic symbiotic relationship with it. Rafflesia absorbs water and nutrient from the host plant on which it lives. It grows inside the tissue of the host and extract nutrients necessary for growth.
Why Do Rafflesia arnoldii Smells Like Decaying Flesh?
Rafflesia is stinky and it smells like rotten flesh. It smells this way to attract its main pollinator – the carrion fly, that help pollinate the flower. These flies lay their eggs thinking that it is rotting flesh. They are tricked into thinking they have found a meal and a place to lay their eggs. Actually, they pick up or deposit pollen and pollinate the plant.
The smell is stronger during the early morning hours when these plants have the best chance of attracting their pollinators.
Rafflesia arnoldii in Indonesia
Rafflesia arnoldii is one of the three national flowers in Indonesia.
The plant contributes to the ecotourism industry in this state and is used in traditional medicine to stop internal bleeding and to relieve pain during and after childbirth. It is also used as an aphrodisiac and to”restore the female figure” after childbirth.
Why These Plants Are on the Verge of Extinction?
These plants are very rare and almost on the verge of extinction. The main reasons for this are their low reproductive rates and tourism activities that cause destruction of their habitat.
Rafflesia is reddish brown with white marks on its petals.
Spring, Autumn, Winter, Summer
Rafflesia can reach up to 1 m (more than 3 ft) in diameter.
Rafflesia is a parasitic plant and depends completely upon its host, so it doesn't need any soil. Anyway, it has no roots, leaves or stem.