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("The Largest") & ("Yen") & ("Triple")
Deriving it's name from the leader of the expedition that "discovered" it in 1818, Stamford Raffles, we will now take a look at the peculiar plant that is the parasitic Rafflesia (Cronquist, par. 3). It's Genus is native to tropical and some sub-tropical regions of southeastern Asia, and with it's 5 massive, thick and leathery petals, the rafflesia holds the record as the largest single flower in the world (Cronquist par. 3 & Rafflesia, par. 1). It is a certain species, indigenous to the tropical forests of Sumatra, called Rafflesia arnoldii that holds this record though, with a flower reaching a diameter of 3 ft and weighing up to 25 pounds (Rafflesia, par. 1 & Binney, pg. 92)! Rafflesia has a very unusual life cycle, quite different then that of any plant we are familiar with.
The rafflesia may look cool or even beautiful to some, but if you were to happen upon it in real life you might just turn around and walk the other way. This is so, because the rafflesia flower puts out the pungent odor of carrion, a term referring to the rotting flesh of a dead animal (The Private). The rafflesia flower apparently smells like "dead buffalo" (Cronquist, par. 2). It produces this odor to attract flies to come into the flower thinking they are getting a tasty meal of dead flesh, but instead are being tricked into getting a coating of pollen on them, to then, hopefully, fly to another Rafflesia to complete the pollination process ("The Private"). This is just one of the very useful and amazing evolutionary adaptations of the rafflesia.
("Rafflesia arnoldii and buds") & ("Rafflesia arnoldii") & ("Rafflesia Flower")
Not only does it have the largest flower on earth, this plant is completely parasitic to another plant host for it's survival (grapevines of the Genus Tetrastigma, for the most part) ("The Private" & Binney, pg. 92). The flowers first appears as a large cabbage-like bulge (red/purple color) protruding out of the host vine, taking about 5 years to first appear, only to last for 5 short days, and will then only come out about every 3 years ("The Private" & Cronquist, par. 2). But more amazing is that it is only the reproductive body of the plant. It is quite analogous to a mushroom and it's hidden mycelium body. The rafflesia plant "body" exists as a parasitic filament living in the tissues of the vine, stealing all the water and nutrients it needs to survive from it. Consequentely, the rafflesia has no leaves, stems, roots, or any photosynthetic capabilities (Cronquist, par. 1-2). It is just the hidden filament and the reproductive flower. The rafflesia may not have the most aromatic flower, but it surely has one of the most interesting and peculiar life cycles.
("Rafflesia bud") & ("rafflesia-corpse") & ("Rafflesia cantleyi"
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