Feature: Corpse Lily

Rafflesia Arnoldii commonly called the corpse lily or stinking corpse lily is a species of flowering plant in the parasitic genus Rafflesia. It is noted for producing the largest individual flower on Earth.

It has a very strong and unpleasant odour of decaying flesh, earning it the nickname “corpse flower” which is endemic to the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo.

Rafflesia Arnoldii, also called kerubut (devil’s betelnut box), is one of the three national flowers in Indonesia, the other two being the white jasmine and moon orchid. It was officially recognized as a national “rare flower” in Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993.

It lives as a parasite on several vines, which grow only in primary rainforests. Rafflesia lacks any observable leaves, stems or even roots and does not have chlorophyll, yet is still considered a vascular plant. Similar to fungi, individuals grow as thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded within and in intimate contact with surrounding host cells from which nutrients and water are obtained. It can only be seen outside the host plant when it is ready to reproduce.

 Perhaps the only part of Rafflesia that is identifiable as distinctly plant-like is the flowers, though even these are unusual since they attain massive proportions, have a reddish-brown colouration, and stink of rotting flesh. This scent attracts insects such as flies which then pollinate the rare plant. It is not to be confused with the titan arum, which is also commonly referred to as the “corpse flower” because of its repulsive odour.

Rafflesia Arnoldii is rare and fairly hard to locate. It is difficult to locate the flower in forests, as the buds take many months to develop and the flower lasts for just a few days. The flowers are unisexual and thus the proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination.

When Rafflesia is ready to reproduce, a tiny bud forms outside the root or stem of its host and develops over a period of a year. The cabbage-like head that develops eventually opens to reveal the flower. A foul smell of rotting meat attracts flies and beetles to pollinate successfully.

Culled from Wikipedia



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