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Corpse flower

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Corpse flower
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Rafflesia arnoldii

Rafflesia bud.jpg
Bud of rafflesia

The Corpse flower is a species of plant known by the scientific name Rafflesia arnoldii. It was named after the founder of the British colony of Singapore, (Sir Stamford Raffles). It is known to be one of the worlds largest flowers, but is perhaps best known for its smell of rotting flesh, from which it name is derived - “corpse flower”. It should not to be confused with the Titan arum, which is also referred to by that name. The corpse flower feeds only on vines called the Tetrastigma, which is related to the grapevine. This immense 5-petaled flower is known to be endangered and threatened. [1]


close up of rafflesia arnoldii

The body of the Rafflesia contains parasitic thread like growths that are located on the tissues of the Tetrastigma. This strange plant does not contain any chlorophyll and does not produce leaves, stems or even roots. [2] The Rafflesia flower is really only seen when its prepared or preparing for reproduction. When the flower is ready for reproduction, it's parasitic growths form a structure that resembles a cabbage. This extremely huge flower is revealed after a 9 month period after the cabbage like structure bursts. The stamens and pistils develop into fruit that has thousands of coated seeds. The flower sits on the floor of the forest, it's about 1 meter across, and weighs around 22lbs. The rafflesia is known to be odorous because the plant uses odor to attract flies to pollinate itself. Its known to have the smell of rotting human flesh. Within the center of the plant are an abundant amount of spikes and gallons of nectar, the spikes functions are truly unknown. [3]


The Rafflesia begins its reproduction by forming a tiny bud outside of the roots and or stem. This tiny bud develops into a cabbage like head in approximately 1 year depending on the location. It eventually opens and reveals the flower inside of the plant. The stigma or stamen, depending on the sex, is attached to a spiked disk inside of the flower. Flies and beetles are attracted to the flowers odor and pollinate it. [4] Pollination is considered rare to the Rafflesia because the plant is unisex depending on the plant. To have successful reproduction, the insects that pollinate the rafflesia would need to pollinate both the male and female plant. The male and female Rafflesia are not ordinarily close to each other or at the same stage of maturity and thus makes it difficult for both the male and female plant to be pollinated. Another reason that the Rafflesia has a rare chance of pollination is that the flowers last less than a week making it quite difficult for pollination. [5]


Sumatra is the native habitat

The Corpse flower is found in high altitudes of up to 500 to even 700 meters in forests such as Borneo, Sumatra and even Java. In these forests heat is steadily not only warm but humid, humidity is its highest at night. Corpse flower plants are also found in forests in Malaysian states like Sabah and Sarawak. [6] All of the plants in the genus rafflesia are now considered either endangered or threatened, according to law in Sarawak the plant is totally protected. People in Malaysia are encouraged to not only save the flowers in their private properties but are also encouraged to charge small fees to see the flower. Flower buds on the peninsula Malaysia are actually sold for small fees as traditional medicines. To help mothers after birth, the residents give the buds to these mothers. The buds are seen as a sign of fertility in Malaysia. Though there has been much effort to reduce the number of rafflesia being lost, the over all collection of the buds has actually reduced the numbers of plants in the wild. Sadly, as more populations start to grow this rare plant is more and more vulnerable to deforestation and development. Since the Tetrastigma is the only food that the rafflesia really depends on, it is protected by the state's Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997. Conservationists of the rafflesia are hoping that the plants will soon be protected by complete habitat protection but it seems this unlikely because there is no real sign of this protection in the future. [7]

Rafflesia Food and Feeding

The Rafflesia is contingent on a vine called Tetrastigma that is related to grapevines. [8] The Tetrastigma also known as the Chestnut vine or lizard plant and is found in tropical woodlands located from Indonesia and Malaysia to North Australia. Each leaf of the Tetrastigma is 1 foot across and is considered a giant in the vines group. The vine contains 3 to even 5 leafs that are glossy and saw edged. this vine is considered both useful and a menace, useful for covering walls but a menace if weak or delicate plants are close by. [9]


Malaysian Tropical Rainforest

Rafflesia arnoldii