Largest Flower - Rafflesia
Rafflesia, a native of rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in the Indonesian Archipelago, is the largest flower in the world. Interestingly, Rafflesia is a parasitic plant without any leaves, stems and roots (It has only nutrient-absorbing threads to absorb nutrients from the host on which it lives) but for the largest flower.
- R. arnoldii
Rafflesia is a huge speckled five-petaled flower with a diameter up to 106 cm, and weighing up to 10 kg. Rafflesia flower has a small life of 5-7 days. Rafflesias have their stamens and pistils fused together in a central column, producing a corona, or crown, in the shape of a ring. The reddish brown colors of the petals, are sprinkled with white freckles. The smell attracts the carrion flies and then pollination occurs. After 9 months of maturation, Rafflesia plant opens into a cabbage-sized bud. The sexual organs are located beneath the rim of the disk.
Facts About Rafflesia
- Rafflesia is the largest individual flower. Titan arum bears the largest inflorescence.
- Rafflesia is a parasite which attaches itself to a host plant, Tetrastigma vine, which grows only in undisturbed rainforests, to obtain water and nutrients.
- The genus Rafflesia is named after adventurer and founder of the British colony of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles.
- Dr Arnold is remembered in the species name as Rafflesia arnoldii.
- Rafflesia is the official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia, as well as for the Surat Thani Province, Thailand.
- Rafflesia manillana, the smallest species in the genus Rafflesia is also has 20 cm diameter flowers.
- Rafflesia flowers are unisexual.
- Forest mammals and tree shrews feed on Rafflesia fruit which is 15cm in diameter, filled with smooth flesh and thousands of tiny hard coated seeds.
- It is believed that rafflesia is related to poinsettias, violets, passionflowers, and other members of the order Malpighiales.
- The rotten smell of the flower is due to the reddish tentacle-like, branched ramentae, inside the corolla of petals.
- Rafflesia is an endangered or threatened genus.
- Rafflesia arnoldii does not have chlorophyll, as all the green plants have and so it cannot undergo photosynthesis.
As Rafflesia is one of the rarest plants on earth, people started to study them since 1929. They tried to cultivate the plant artificially, as the plant takes 9 to 21 months until a bud flowers - only to last for less than a week. But all the experiments ended in failure.
Similar in line with the Rafflesia, which is the largest single flower, The titan arum - Amorphophallus titanum, is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world of flowering plants. Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari discovered the Titan Arum in Sumatra in 1878.
Titan arum is also the native of rainforests of Sumatra. Titan arum belongs to the family Araceae. Titan arum is also called as Corpse flower due to its rotten flesh smell when the flower is in bloom. The Titan arum plant can reach to a height of 7 to 12 feet and weigh 170 pounds. In Indonesia its called as bunga bangkai.
In Titan arum, both male and female flowers grow in the same inflorescence at the base of the spadix. The female flowers open first, then in a day or two the male flowers open. This prevents the flower from self-pollinating. In Titan Arum the spathe is green outside and dark burgundy red inside, and is deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow, and pale yellow. The upper, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. When the Titan arum reaches full bloom, the spadix collapses from its own weight and the spathe withers away, possibly never to bloom again. In the wild, the leaf can reach 20 feet tall and 15 feet across.