1818 Rafflesia discovery largest flower

1818 Rafflesia discovery largest flower

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Rafflesia arnoldi. Hand tinted copperplate engraving from "Bilderbuch fur Kinder" BD XI, No 14, plate CLXXIII. c1820. The largest single flower in the world (the Titan Arum has the largest unbranched inflorescence, but not single flower in the botanical sense). It was discovered in 1818 by a party led by Sir Stamford Raffles. The plant is parasitic and so has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an endoparasite of the Tetrastigma vines of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand and the Philippines. It can weigh up to 10 kilograms and have a diameter of over a meter. The bad smelling 'corpse flowers' attract flies and other insects for pollination. Most of the 28 species have seperate male and female flowers.

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