Rafflesia arnoldii is a species of flowering plant in the parasitic genus Rafflesia. It is noted for producing the largest individual flower on earth. It has a very strong and horrible odour of decaying flesh, earning it the nickname "carrion flower". It is endemic to the rainforests of Sumatra and possibly Borneo.
Although there are some plants with larger flowering organs like the titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) and talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera), those are technically clusters of many flowers. Rafflesia arnoldii (Indonesian: Padma raksasa), also called Kerubut (Devil's Betelnut Box) is one of the three national flowers in Indonesia, the other two being the white jasmine and moon orchid. It was officially recognised as a national "rare flower" (Indonesian: Puspa langka) in Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993.
The flower of Rafflesia arnoldii grows to a diameter of around one meter and weighs up to 11 kilograms. These flowers emerge from very large, cabbage-like, maroon or magenta buds typically about 30 cm wide, but the largest (and the largest flower bud ever recorded) found at Mount Sago, Sumatra in May 1956 was 43 cm. It lives as a parasite on several vines of the genus Tetrastigma, which grow only in primary (undisturbed) rainforests.
Rafflesia lacks any observable leaves, stems or even roots, yet is still considered a vascular plant. Similar to fungi, individuals grow as thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded within and in intimate contact with surrounding host cells from which nutrients and water are obtained. This plant produces no leaves, stems or roots and does not have chlorophyll. It can only be seen outside the host plant when it is ready to reproduce. Perhaps the only part of Rafflesia that is identifiable as distinctly plant-like are the flowers, though even these are unusual since they attain massive proportions, have a reddish-brown coloration, and stink of rotting flesh. This scent attracts insects such as flies which then pollinate the rare plant.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.