Saturday, December 1, 2012


Until recently, I hadn't thought about this wonderful flower. At this time of the year, our thoughts seem focused on "Christmas Bouquets", "Holiday Wreaths", "Poinsettias" of various colour and size; or other such seasonal plants growing throughout the house. I think this "Rafflesia Plant" is one of the most beautiful I have seen. My young friend Hannah, way over in Malaysia had her photo taken with this particular species and gave me permission to use this beautiful photo in my post. Thanks Hannah.
I hadn't much knowledge base, prior to this photo and must admit I did learn quite a bit about a very ancient flower. The "Rafflesia Arnoldi" contains approximately 28 species and is not only the largest "single" flower of any flowering plant, but is also the world's largest blooms; at least in terms of weight.
Rafflesia was found in the Indonesian rain forest in 1818 by an Indonesian guide working with the Dr. Joseph Arnold and Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles Expedition - "Rafflesia Arnoldi". The rare flower is found in the rainforests of Indonesia, South Eastern Asia, Sabah State in Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Surat Thani Province - Thailand and the Philippines.
The flower buds are applied in traditional medicine to promote delivery and recovery during and after childbirth. They are also used as an aphrodisiac. These uses are associated with the shape, colour, and size of the buds, and superstitions surrounding the flower.
The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It attaches itself to the host plant to obtain water and nutrients. It is an endoparasite of vines, spreading its absorptive organ, inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the petaled flower. In some species of this plant, the flower may be over 100 cm (39) inches in diameter, and weigh up to l0 kilograms (22)lbs.

The decaying flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower". This odor attracts insects, which transport pollen from male to female flowers.

Each mature blossom produces millions of seeds. For this plant to germinate, the seed must find its way to the host vine.

Ants, butterflies, squirrels, wild pigs and TREE SHREWS help to distribute the Rafflesia seeds.
As humans, we are a bit limited in our imaginations - for example, we'd probably never consider climbing onto the edge of a toilet seat and licking the .....employing the toilet for standard use. After enjoying the sweet fruits of the Rafflesia, the tree shrew is drawn to the sweet nectar of the "pitcher plant" - and poops into the pitcher plant while nibbling the nectar, thus spreading the Rafflesia seeds - HOLY CRAP - A MEAL AND A TOILET ALL IN ONE - WHO KNEW?
Just one of the many unique ways to "spread the seed"


DJan said...

That is indeed a fascinating flower. I heard a little about it but this told me everything anybody would ever want to know! And then some... but it sure is pretty even if I wouldn't want to be anywhere near one. :-)

Genie said...

OMG, woman.....I am laughing out loud. Pooping in a pitcher plant....who would believe that one if you hadn't shown us the photo and told us the story. This is an amazing plant...flower....HUGE! Wouldn't you just love to see one up close and personal? This is one super duper post, my friend. I am back to the blogging world. That LR course about killed me...and then there was the back acting up and the drive up to my daughter's in MD over Thanksgiving. Too much for this old gal. Anyway it is all over and I am getting back to normal. The back is acting up, but then, what's new????? Winter is still escaping us. Another warm weekend these 2 days. I wanna come to Canada and see you...there I would get some winter. Behave yourself....genie

Gail said...

How wonderful. I know we have nothing that beautiful here.

My sister ordered an exotic plant one time and it only bloomed a short time and produced such a smell. Maybe it was in the same family.

Red said...

So we have many interesting things to learn about plants in other parts of the world. Parasites make for a whole different ball game.
It's interesting in Hawaii to find poinsettas growing in the ditch. It's also interesting to find impatience that are a meter tall.
Interesting post!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Haha, that 'toilet' post is one for me!!! I've never seen such an intriguing flower - and your analogy is hilarious!!! Love it!!!