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Rafflesia arnoldii (corpse flower)

A rare, parasitic, rootless and leafless plant, Rafflesia arnoldii has the largest known flower in the world.
Rafflesia arnoldii growing to the east of the Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia

Rafflesia arnoldii growing to the east of the Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia (Photo: Henrik Hansson licensed under CC by 3.0)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Rafflesia arnoldii R.Br.

Common name: 

corpse flower (on account of the flowers smelling of rotting flesh)

Conservation status: 

Not yet assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria. Considered vulnerable due to disturbance by tourists and collecting of flower buds for traditional medicine.

Habitat: 

Primary and secondary forests. Usually as a parasite on Tetrastigma leucostaphylum.

Key Uses: 

Flower buds used in traditional medicine; iconic flower depicted on tourist brochures and postage stamps.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Rosanae
Order: 
Malpighiales
Family: 
Rafflesiaceae
Genus: Rafflesia

About this species

This southeast Asian plant has the largest known individual flower in the world. It is parasitic on members of the genus Tetrastigma (in the grape family, Vitaceae). It has no roots or leaves and most of the time lives unobserved inside the woody stems and roots of its host. Rafflesia arnoldii only becomes visible when its plump buds emerge through the bark of its host and develop into the large, fleshy flowers which are pollinated by carrion-flies.

Synonym: 

Rafflesia atjehensis

Genus: 
Rafflesia

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