Considered one of the rarest in the world not only for its gigantic petals
but also for the putrid smell it emits to attract pollinators and prey, the
genus rafflesia is endemic in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the
Known Species: 28
Range: S-E Asian (Indonesia,
Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Philippines)
Host plant: Some species
of Tetrastigma Vine, found in the rainforest.
Biology: Pollinated by
Largest bloom: R. Arnoldii -
max. diameter: 106.7 m (3 ft 6 in), max. weight: 11 kilograms (24 lb)
Discovery: R. Arnoldii,
Indonesia, 1818 (Stamford Raffles and James Arnold)
The Rafflesia may be the heavyweight champion among blooms, but it is also extremely shy and temperamental.
The world's largest flower, an allegedly stunning sight, is a rare, short-term bloomer and so temperamental,
even Singapore's Botanic Gardens has not yet succeeded in growing its own.
Once a year the Rafflesia grows to a diameter of one metre-plus with five cabbage-lookalike, leather-textured,
dull-red spotted petals and with a bowl-like centre that could swallow up a drain cat (and that does swallow flies
and insects for its own sustenance).
But it may take up to nine months to spring from seed to pod to flower, and it stays in bloom for just a few
days (upper limit: one week).
No one can forecast just when, either. Some say after heavy rainfall, others say only if the month ends in "er",
others say in July.
Interesting Facts about Rafflesia
The parasitic Rafflesia can grow up to a metre in diameter (world record:
The flower withers only after emitting a stench to draw insects.
The bloom hollow at the centre and white and red-spotted, has five
It takes about nine months for the flower to bloom and it can only
last for a week.
A Rafflesia flower can grow up to a metre in diameter, and the
biggest can weigh up to 7kg.
Despite having such a huge flower, the parasitic plant has no root
or stem and grows inside its host, a Tetrasigma vine, which is of the grape
There are 20 Rafflesia species in the world, with Malaysia and
Indonesia having eight species each.
When a Rafflesia flower blooms, it emits an overpowering scent of