rafflesia : Species Endangered by a Diminishing Ecology


Map of Rafflesia

Credit to: Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent http://www.science.siu.edu/parasitic-plants/index.html

Although we are generally focusing on the snimal species that have become endangered due to our actions, we would like to show a very interesting plant that is not widely known. Just ask around, let it be a quiz, you will find that not many people will know what a Rafflesia plant is.

As we know, there are two kinds of rain forest, tropical and temperate. The largest flower is found in the tropical rain forest; the largest plant is found in the temperate rain forest.

The largest flower is the Rafflesia. The first Europeans to discover the Rafflesia were Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr Joseph Arnold in 1816, near the town of Bencoolen (Bengkulu) in Sumatra. Not surprisingly, that particular species was named Rafflesia Arnoldii. In addition, the record size, according to the Guiness Book of Records, is a Rafflesia arnoldii, which stretched 91cm and 3 feet in diameter, 1.9 cm or 3/4 inch thick and weighed 7 kgs or 15 lbs.

Size:The largest type of flower, up to 1m in diameter.

Weight: It weighs up to 9kg!!!

Distribution: Rare, it is only found in certain areas of South-East Asia where there is much precipitation, particularly prevalent in Sumatra

Habitat: It is usually found in the rainforests on the slopes of mountain ranges.


Characteristics: The flower is an excellent example of how fragile some components of the tropical forest are, for its very survival is totally dependent on one particular vine called Tetrastigma, related to the grapevine.

Credit to: Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent http://www.science.siu.edu/parasitic-plants/index.html

The Rafflesia is a disembodied flower. A rootless, leafless and stemless parasite, it drains nourishment and gains physical support from its host vine. Its only body outside the flower consists of strands of fungus-like tissue that grow inside the Tetrastigma vine.


It first manifests itself as a tiny bud on the vine's roots or stem. But over a period of 12 months, it swells to a cabbage-like head that bursts around midnight under the cover of a rainy night to reveal this startling, lurid-red flower.

Credit to: Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent http://www.science.siu.edu/parasitic-plants/index.html

Inside the cauldron-like cup is a spiked disk. And attached to its underside are either stigmas or stamens, depending upon whether the plant is male or female. By now you've probably noticed the characteristic rotting-meat smell that gives the plant its local name: "corpse flower". The odor attracts carrion-scavenging flies and beetles into the plant to pollinate it. But the full-grown flower lasts only about a week before it dies, so seeing one up close like this is lucky indeed.

Threats: Loss of habitat as human population clears rainforest

Status: All the 15 species of Rafflesias are among the rarest to see and the most endangered flowers in South-East Asia.

Conservation: Areas such as the 386 acres Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve made up a mixture of temperate oaks, chesnut type and highland dipterocarps forest are being set up to save and educate people about this rare and unique flower.


Click the links at the top to visit the different
species living in the rainforest!!!

Credit to: Dr. Daniel L. Nickrent http://www.science.siu.edu/parasitic-plants/index.html


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