Saturday, December 12, 2009

Plant of the week: "Rafflesia"

This is one that you'll probably never have in your collection, unless you're a plant conservatory or happen to live in the rain forests of Borneo. The Rafflesia is said to be the largest flower that exists in the world, one measured a record 42 inches in diameter!
This is one of the many strange parasitic plants that remains in the shrinking rain forests of south east Asia. It begins its life on a vine high up in the canopy of rain forest trees then gradually descends to the forest floor on its host until it reaches the ground. There, it unfolds its cabbage like growth into a singular flower that emits a rather fowl smell. The locals refer to it as the "corpse flower" because of its odor that reminds some of rotting flesh. This however, makes it quite attractive to the plant's pollinators, flies and small mammals who carry off pollen and disperse seeds. The flower begins to fade and rot after only a few days.



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