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Corpse Flower

Rafflesia is a unique genus of flowering plants. The members of this group are parasitic and have no stems, leaves, or true roots.  Many of them are pollinated by carrion flies and, to attract these insects, their flowers smell strongly of rotting meat. The common name for the plant, "corpse flower", describes the floral odor quite well.  Finally, some species of Rafflesia (e.g. Rafflesia arnoldii) are renown for producing the largest single flower in the world, the corolla obtaining a diameter of over a meter. 

My study site at the Raya-Pasi Nature Reserve in West Kalimantan (see Illipe Nut III) contained a healthy population of Rafflesia tuan-mudae.  The young flower buds, which would pop-up unpredictably in the forest, were the size of croquet balls. The image above shows a new flower next to an older blossom which has started to decompose. [NOTE: The vines growing on the tree in the background are Tetrastigma (VITACEAE), the obligate host for Rafflesia].

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