Sep 30, 2009

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.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division : Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Rafflesiales
Family : Rafflesiaceae
Genus : Rafflesia
Species : 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.
Growing Rafflesia

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.

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