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The Rafflesia Plant - The Largest Carnivorous Flower in the World

Updated on March 29, 2015
lady rain profile image

Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and hobbies. She likes travelling and making papercraft models.

Have you seen the largest flower in the world? In the tropical rainforests of Borneo, there is an amazing parasitic exotic plant called the Rafflesia which produces the most gigantic flowers in the world. This unique plant was named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who was the governor of Sumatra in the early 1800s and most famously known for his founding of Singapore.

The unusual Rafflesia plant has no leaves, stems or roots. Being endoparasitic, the Rafflesia attaches itself onto a host plant for nutrients and survival. The host plant is the Tetrastigma vine that grows only in the primary rainforests. This makes the Rafflesia very rare and hard to locate. Besides, it is even more difficult to see the Rafflesia blooming. There will be a lot of travelling and jungle trekking to get to this plant as the blooms are usually found in higher altitudes.

A Rafflesia bud can take up to one year to develop before it transforms into a magnificent giant flower measuring almost one metre across. One single flower can weigh up to a massive 11 kg in weight. A typical Rafflesia flower consists of five huge fleshy leathery petals that are red in colour with wart-like mottles. The centre of the flower contains a disc with many vertical spines. The gigantic flower will stay open for about five days after which it will start to wilt. The red colour starts to change and turns brown. Finally it becomes black and collapses into a big slimy mass.


The Rafflesia plant is also called "corpse flower" or "meat flower" by the locals because the giant flowers smell like rotting flesh in the advanced stage of decomposition. The pungent smell attracts insects like bugs and flies to the flowers to assist in pollinating the male and female flowers so that more Rafflesias will continue to grow.

The Rafflesia Flower

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Rafflesia flower in full bloomPrimary rainforest in BorneoRafflesia budsA closeup of the centre disc of the Rafflesia shows the spinesThe Rafflesia flower in the process of wilting after several days of blooming
The Rafflesia flower in full bloom
The Rafflesia flower in full bloom | Source
Primary rainforest in Borneo
Primary rainforest in Borneo | Source
Rafflesia buds
Rafflesia buds | Source
A closeup of the centre disc of the Rafflesia shows the spines
A closeup of the centre disc of the Rafflesia shows the spines | Source
The Rafflesia flower in the process of wilting after several days of blooming
The Rafflesia flower in the process of wilting after several days of blooming | Source

There are several species of Rafflesia found in the jungles of Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Philippines. All the species are endangered and threatened by logging, ethnobotanical collecting and burning of primary forests especially in Borneo and Sumatra.

In recent years, conservation of the Rafflesia has been given a priority in the state of Sabah in Malaysia as this unique plant is on the endangered species list and is on the brink of extinction. Areas inhabiting the Rafflesia are now being monitored and protected in the country.

© 2011 lady rain

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    • profile image

      az 

      11 days ago

      This is actually a wild Vileplume , a very rare pokemon sighting.

    • profile image

      ayush 

      3 years ago

      It is amazing ! It is ..it is..it is fabulous I really like it thank you to share your ideal with ourself

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      5 years ago from Australia

      Gail, thank you for your kind comment. I like your hubs on gardening, too, they are very informative :)

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 

      5 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      It's that amazing! I just love to see and read about unusual plants. I recently read and wrote about the titan arum. Voted up and tweeted.

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      6 years ago from Australia

      kerlynb, yes, the Philippines is one of the countries that has this rare flower. It is likely to be found in the thick jungles that are inaccessible by people. Thank you for stopping by and leaving comment.

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 

      6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Your hub just made me remember about rafflesias in the Philippines. Rafflesia was thought to be extinct in the country as early as 1882. But thanks to the efforts of Filipino scientists, it was discovered that this rare flower still grows in high peaks in several provinces. Even mountaineers have discovered rafflesia in unlikely places and mountains in the Philippines :)

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Moira, thank you for dropping by and commenting. You are lucky to have such a rare plant in your country. People around the world have to pay lots of money and travel to Borneo to see this flower.

    • MoiraCrochets profile image

      Moira Durano-Abesmo 

      6 years ago from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines

      Interesting hub!

      We actually have one here in a forest near my city. They say it's a meter across and really smells gross. Ugh! But they are really beautiful when you can't smell them.

      I never had the chance to see one in person.

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      6 years ago from Australia

      htodd, thank you for stopping by and reading my hub. Cheers.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great post...Thanks

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      6 years ago from Australia

      davenmidtown, you are funny, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Cheers from lady rain.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 

      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Great hub! its a good thing the flower stinks or it would have become a lapel pin!

    • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

      lady rain 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Princesswithapen, thank you for being the first one to leave a comment. Mother Nature made sure nobody will want to pluck this rare beauty by making it heavy and stinky!

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 

      6 years ago

      A flower weighing 11 kilos. Who would've thought? Thanks for sharing, lady rain!

      P

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