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Rafflesia, World’s Biggest Flower

In 1818 , in the rainforests of Java , during an expedition a huge and strange flower specie was discovered by an Indonesian guide working for Dr. Joseph Arnold . It was named as Refflesia in the name of Sir Stamford Raffles, the then Governor of Bencoolen in Sumatra and who was heading the expedition.

Unusual Flower of Rafflesia

Rafflesia Arnoldii, Image © Troy Davis

Rafflesia is deemed to be the largest flower specie on earth, and its homeland is the rainforests of South East Asia. Rafflesia is a very rare flower requiring a special condition of humidity and warmth for it to blossom. From a bud to become a complete flower, Refflesia  needs seven to nine months and it blossoms only for 4 to 5 days. Its powerful smell like perished meat spreads in the area when it is bloomed fully.  So far 28 species of Refflesia have been identified by the botanists and all are found in southeastern Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines. Some species of Rafflesia flower could be as big as 120 cm in diameter and weigh up to 10 Kilograms.

This amazing plant has no stems, leaves or roots. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. Before blooming a cabbage size bug is produced. The normally visible fleshly flower is basically its sexual organ. Commonly the male and female flowers are separate but in some species , they have bisexual flowers as well. Rafflesia is classified as parasite, getting the nutrient out of its host.

Refflesia has been used in different ways by the locals. In Thailand, young buds of the flower are eaten as popular feast.  In Peninsular Malaysia, Rafflesia buds are used by women to prevent internal bleeding and compress the womb after delivery. Men use it as an energy drink or as amorous remedy. However, the buds and flowers of Refflesia carry high content of tannin and carbolic acid and their excessive use can be so dangerous and lethal.

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